At Bean Feast 2015, we were asked about the Rainbow Wall from 2014, so here’s some background. Each year, Bean Feast volunteers run a clean up day in Montpelier Park to tackle persistent issues that regular maintenance is less able to deal with. In 2015, with 24 hours of volunteer time, we raked, trimmed, picked, dug and cleared over 20 bags of waste, 2kg of broken glass, 5 needles and spent an hour picking up dog mess.
In 2014, a number of clean up days ran before Bean Feast, and after one in July, we met with the neighbourhood officer from Bristol City Council to discuss the Park. The cleanups made a difference, but there was a substantial increase in tagging, litter and drug taking affecting the Park at the time. We discussed the state of the middle path in detail, which had been badly affected by tagging in the previous 3 months. Please excuse the blurry photos.
BCC were able to clean the tarmac path, but can’t remove tagging on stone walls, as their methods remove the delicate lime mortar and there’s no budget for repointing. By July 2014, taggers had covered over half the wall and were returning almost nightly, but had studiously avoided a 5m stretch of rainbow painting at the top. The option of painting tags grey was discussed, as BCC had already used on offensive tags, but this was overtagged within days. Planting vegetation to cover the walls was an option, but the middle path is narrow and the existing vegetation had to be cut back to clear access for wheelchairs and buggies. BCC, Montpelier Park Group and the Montpelier Conservation Group were all consulted and in agreement that the most effective way to reduce tagging on that path was to extend the rainbow painting, as suggested by a St Andrew’s Road resident.
We do recognise that painting stone walls is not an ideal solution in a Conservation Area, but as the majority of stones were already daubed (and by September’s Bean Feast, the tagging was worse), we felt it better to create a more welcoming entrance to the park and prevent another graffiti wall forming than allow the tags to mutate and spread further.
Bean Feast paid for a workshop to be run with local children to paint the rainbow wall, extending the colours towards the gate (but not onto St Andrews Road, and not onto the mortar). Leftover paint is stored in the ‘bat’ community toolstore next to the park so future tagging is quickly painted out by local residents. We love Montpelier Park, but we know it can feel threatening and off-putting, and believe a welcoming entrance to encourage law-abiding users is very important.
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