The Graffiti Street Art of Toronto, Canada
A Gallery Walk Through Kensington Market | Sharon Henry
Opinion about graffiti, or street art, is split down the middle; one person’s art is another’s vandalism.
The city of Toronto, in Canada, has embraced the culture of graffiti, a move that has boosted the city’s tourism industry. There are many graffiti walking tours available that will set you back around $30. People actually visit Toronto just to admire the graffiti and the city also hosts street art festivals.
Mischief In Kensington Market
We’ve seen graffiti in many places but none as striking as Toronto. We stumbled upon the city’s street art scene during an early morning stroll along Spadina Avenue, downtown. When most were sipping their first mug of coffee we were on the streets discovering these epic murals, spray-painted onto the city’s buildings. One dazzling painting after another.
At first it felt slightly mischievous admiring the ‘work’; wasn’t graffiti illegal?
But, because there was so much, concentrated in the area of Kensington Market we soon figured it was a consensual feature of the neighbourhood. Plus, these weren’t of the tacky, property defacing variety; these were beautifully and painstakingly put together. The skill required to create such detailed works of art was undeniable and we were spellbound.
Graffiti Management in Toronto
The streets were quiet, save a few shop keepers opening shutters, otherwise the place was ours to roam freely with little distractions. Although graffiti is perceived to be gang-related, what we saw felt intrinsically part of the community; the area felt safe. Lured by elaborate, colourful designs we entered deserted alleyways and back-ways; an easy hour photographing and appreciating the art.
Coming from the island of St Helena where graffiti in any form is virtually non-existent, Toronto’s street art was an eye-opener.
We later found out Toronto have a Graffiti Management Plan whereby an official panel decides whether or not a design is aesthetically pleasing enough to remain in place. Also they encourage building owners to work with graffiti artists for commissioned work. There is even an artist directory.
Graffiti – Art Or Vandalism?
Our favourite that morning was a funky afro diva painted onto a garage door; clever highlighting and shading brought it alive. In fact they were all so amazingly cool it gave the city a modern, trendy vibe.
Well done to Toronto. Their graffiti street art gave them the ‘wow’ factor, making it one of our favourite cities.
What are your thoughts about graffiti? Is it art or simply vandalism?