Writings and Witterings

Walter Kershaw


The artist Walter Kershaw is perhaps best known for the famous Trafford Park Murals at White City, Manchester. This poem is in response to Anna Montgomery’s prompt for Meeting the Bar at dVerse Poets Pub on Thursday 21 February where we’re exploring the ancient and contemporary art of graffiti.

Walter Kershaw Graffitiwww.cartanart.com

Walter Kershaw Graffiti

Latin texts of old Pompeii
vie with Banksy of today,
cool tattoos of the 1970’s
patterned ends of terraced houses.
Walter Kershaw is ‘Britain’s first graffiti artist.’
A riot of colour, Graffiti! Graffiti!
His reward: butties
and mugs of tea.

A student of fine art at Durham,
with murals commissioned overseas,
interviews with Russell Harty
and others on radio and TV,
his shocks of guerrilla technicolour, in Lancashire red-brick streets,
meant he travelled early in the morning
when most of us are between the sheets,
off he’d tear on his motorbike,
to the neighbourhoods, to…grapheet.

They queued to ask, ‘Will you do my house next?’
while local councils sent reams of text,
‘Cease and desist.’
Nothing was done,
the man was known to everyone.
No charges pursued so none ensued,
all knew his fame, knew his game.
Now much graffiti’s washed away,
only photographs of the art in the day.

Latin texts of old Pompeii
vie with Banksy of today,
yet not so long ago we saw
glorious graffiti
fom Walter Kershaw.

Polly Stretton © 2013


35 thoughts on “Walter Kershaw

  1. A fine poem indeed. I do like those pansies.
    Good they didn’t arrest him.


  2. pretty cool…i did not know about him…ha at their protests as well..sadly much of it though is washed away…all that art gone…kinda sad you know….cool bit of history…thanks for the lesson…smiles.


  3. I love that painting, wow…the idea of sneaking around in the early hours for your art, that’s dedication… thanks for sharing!


  4. Impressive writing and fascinating topic. I love learning through poetry.


  5. Yes, color can be dangerous. I have an excellent book by a British artist and professor called Chromophobia by David Batchelor, a fascinating read. I wasn’t familiar with Walter Kershaw, thank you for the excellent introduction!


  6. ….nice to learn something new today while doing this exercise 😉


  7. Love this one, Polly. Street art is my favorite form of expression–it is guerilla inspiration.


  8. beautiful painting, nice that people were supportive


  9. Walter Kershaw…haven’t heard about him before but now wanna check him out… he sounds like an awesome artist..love that people wanted their house graffiti’d by him..and nice on the nod to pompeii as well


  10. Nice one Polly. Reminds me of the the company that put up blank billboards and invited graffiti on it. Some of the stuff was amazing!


  11. “Grapheet” – interesting you spell that with a “ph”. Good word! Nice to read this one after we were talking about it the other day. I wonder what happened to him? (I will look it up later I expect).


    • Y’know, ‘grafeet’ and ‘grafit’ just didn’t look / feel right to me, too feeti and ‘how would you pronounce that – able’ if you see what I mean … also liked the way ‘grapheet’ reminds of graphs / measurement / drawing … I think he’s still around and still painting …


  12. I didn’t know of him either Polly – you have written fine words of a fine artist.

    Anna :o]


  13. I didn’t know about Walter Kershaw – lived on the wrong side of the Pennines, but his work looks amazing and your poem is a fine tribute.


  14. You use rhyme very well here – because of varying line lengths it’s quite subtle and yet it’s there in a really lovely way – also I love the quotidian touches and of course your framing with Pompei – the here and here and gone. Well done. k.


  15. That kind of street art is a gift to the community. We have a muralist who works this way in Tucson, too. Ultimately, he became a self-supporting working artist as businesses and organizations hire him to market their events, shops, etc.


  16. I hope you will send/give him a copy of the poem. No doubt he would be thrilled! As for grapheet, LOVE it! 🙂


  17. I’ve never heard of Walter Kershaw, but his art seems really interesting I think I might look some up 🙂 And by the way, the word “grapheet” is the work of a genius ❤
    I've wrote a poem too on the prompt. Care to take a look? 🙂



    • Liked your poem too Jodette – glad to see you’ll look up Walter Kershaw ~ apparently he only accepts info via post, so I think I’ll send a copy of the poem to him 🙂


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