New project to engage youth through graffiti [Audio]

pic: Matthew Kraus

pic: Matthew Kraus


A new creative project using a non-traditional method to engage young people in Hackney will begin this Thursday 25 April. Headed by volunteer, Haseeb Ahmed, 22, the Levy Centre in Hackney will launch Urban, a graffiti art project for youths between 13 and 25.

Despite defining graffiti as being “illegal, antisocial and diminishing the local environment” on its website, Hackney Council is supporting the project along with Positive Futures, a national youth crime prevention programme funded by the Home Office.

The choice to focus on graffiti as a form of expression is very intentional, says project leader, Haseeb Ahmed.

Ahmed has enlisted a friend who was a professional graffiti artist to teach painting with spray cans and to help the participants with ideas. There will also be lessons on the history and perception of graffiti in London.

The aim is to provide materials and a working space where young people can sign up and express themselves in a creative way. The equipment  goes beyond just using pen and paper, as these might not appeal to everyone. Although he had initial concerns about marketing the art project as a graffiti-project, Ahmed says that the urban and subcultural connotations of graffiti are actually appealing to young people since it is an art form that they recognise from their everyday environments.

However, there is one big difference which separates the Urban Graffiti Art project from ‘regular graffiti’: the object of decoration! Haseeb Ahmad stresses that the project leaders will underline that the new skills are not be taken to the streets.

But what are the consequences of using a term, that for many people is the definition of vandalism and in some cases has a direct impact on people’s perception on the levels of crime in a community?

The Urban Graffiti Art Project will exhibit the artworks at a talent show in the Levy Centre, 18-24 Lower Clapton Road on June 6th, where they will also host a youth talent show.

They invite anyone who is interested to sign up for the Graffiti Art Project or the Project X talent show at or Tel: 07925 638 000.

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