Street art finds new home in Harrogate studio

NADV 1406102AM2 Graffiti Studio. Graffiti artists Simon Birkhead and Greg Metcalfe. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1406102AM2)
NADV 1406102AM2 Graffiti Studio. Graffiti artists Simon Birkhead and Greg Metcalfe. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1406102AM2)

Street artists in Harrogate have been given a rare chance to master their craft after a newl- opened art studio invited them to practise for free.

Wayne Malton, owner of Rapture Gallery on Westmoreland street, has encouraged street artists to bring their work indoors by designing the walls of his newly acquired art studio on nearby Mowbrary Square.

His new studio, R-Space, has been designed as a hub of artistic actvity; providing affordable studio space for local artists while offering a series of classes and workshops.

As well as teaching ceramics, life drawing and jewellery-making, Wayne will be offering classes on street art whilst assisting the artists find voluntary projects to showcase their work.

He said: “We’re giving street artists the opportunity to come in, paint some of the walls around the studio and give them somewhere to go and work without fear.

“All the individuals who come here are just desperate to paint but want a way to do so without breaking the law. We teach them they can showcase their work without getting arrested.

“The lessons are designed to teach them how to be better artists and that street art isn’t about writing slurs on the wall. The aim is to try to encourage them to the use the space provided and the facilities that we offer to accomplish their ambition.

“Hopefully the new studio will allow artists to talk to me about their interests and we can explore them together. If they’re really interested in art they can come and see us and we can give them some much needed practice.”

Rapture Gallery opened in 2011 with the ethos of helping local artists and students by working closely with local colleges and exhibiting a variety of tghe students’ work.

As a fellow artist, Wayne is desperate for street artists to embody Harrogate’s proud artistic culture but admits it’s an up-hill struggle for them to legitimately practice their skill.

He said: “I understand people will be worried about teenagers running around and writing on the walls but we’re not encouraging that,. We look for projects where they can put that painting and creativity iniside.

“There is a great art scene in Harrogate but street art is lacking direction. The workshops space are dedicated to sorting this out.”

A petition started by local street artists to introduce a legal wall has been gathering pace and Wayne believes its introduction would help to alleviate vandalism in the area.

He said: “There are more than 77 legal walls which have been set up by councils and they’ve had a positive impact.

“In the areas where they have legalised walls, grafitti on the streets has been reduced. The artists don’t have to operate in the shadows.”