Marja-Leena Rathje
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Olga Campbell's Graffiti Alphabet


Friend and fellow-artist Olga Campbell has just published her very first book, Graffiti Alphabet. She calls it a visual tour of the graffiti of Vancouver. I just bought a copy from her a few days ago and I've been leafing through it, overwhelmed by the beauty of the powerful colours, designs and energy of this street art. Olga has collaged what must be hundreds of photographs taken over six years into a fabulous work of art of its own and a tribute to all those anonymous street artists.

I love the inside cover introduction written by George Rammell, sculptor and faculty of Studio Art and the Art Institute at Capilano University. Here's a snippet:

Olga identifies with the disenfranchised and she's fascinated with young artists who have developed their own vernacular. So, here in her new book, she puts her own studio work aside to provide us with the alphabet of a younger generation. Letter by letter, her pages are like windows to view effigies of urban guerrilla artists determined to have their values encoded in the public realm.

Do have a look at the website and sample pages and if this form of art interests you, I highly recommend you purchase one for yourself or as gifts. Above is the cover image which I've scanned, though it's slightly cropped because the scanner is not quite wide enough. Aren't the colours amazing?

Some readers may remember Olga's name for she has been mentioned here a few times regarding some of her recent exhibitions:

Whispers Across Time exhibition and my visit to it

Triumph of the Human Spirit exhibition and my visit to the opening

Marja-Leena | 21/11/2009 | 6 comments
themes: Books, Other artists


This need in us to create and express is the hope that no matter what social group one is a part of, communication can begin to take place across the lines. We have to start asking each other questions though, and a book such as this one is a wonderful stimulus. Brava Olga!

I knew it. Graffiti is becoming so studied, so planned, so polished that you'll soon be able to take it as a PhD. Or has this already happened?

Yes!! joyful colours to cheer my winter blues

Wow! I love the idea of looking at graffiti in the context of a reader.

Olga's book sounds very interesting! The cover is captivating and speak of the language of street art as arresting to the eye.

R, excellent and thoughtful comment, thank you!

BB, I know you are half joking. Actually I wouldn't be surprised if there is some serious study of graffiti going on, and Olga's book is just one kind. Then there are 'real' artists doing graffiti like work, like that British fellow, Banksy, who does it surreptitiously, anonymously but his 'signature' is well known and he's made it into galleries now.

Rosie, absolutely, my thoughts too!

Julia, when I first heard of this book, I did think it was a children's alphabet book.

Taina, yes! I remember once being stopped for quite a while at a train crossing in the city but being quite captivated and entertained by the fantastic graffiti on the sides of the rail cars.