But is it, Art?

Apple bench in the Wildlife Allotment Garden.

Graffiti. Is it art or is it vandalism?

I guess there will be a range of answers to this question, depending on the nature of the graffiti and/or your personal perspective. Some graffiti is designed to offend. Other graffiti is designed to make you stop and think, something that it has in common with art.

The reason this question is being posed is that some person or, more likely, persons, took it upon themselves to paint The Big Apple Bench, in the Wildlife Allotment Garden (WAG). Whilst the painting has been done quite artistically, it could still be viewed by some as vandalism, rather than art.

The WAG is managed by Cold Ash Parish Councillors, as trustees of the charity that owns the land. The key focus of the parish council is to maximise the benefit that parishioners get from the site. To do this, the parish council established a management plan for the area in 2019, after the previous plan had expired. The key aims of the plan are to make the area a haven for wildlife and enjoyable for the residents of the parish to spend time there. This is a delicate balance to maintain as there are often competing objectives and opinions. Not everyone agrees with all the actions we take in the area, but we always consider any views that are expressed.

To maintain and improve the area is time consuming and can be costly. We are therefore fortunate that a group of volunteers was established a couple of years ago to maintain and improve the site. The group meets each Thursday morning to carry out tasks, identified as part of the management plan. This action, together with work undertaken by some paid contractors and other voluntary groups, means that we can provide an idyllic space in the heart of the parish in a very cost-effective manner.

The Parish Council is always willing to receive proposals and ideas on how we can improve the WAG. So, if you have any ideas, please pass them to either the parish clerk or Ivor McArdle, who leads the group of volunteers and, in effect, manages the site. In doing this, you will ensure that any action you take will be agreed in advance and, therefore, be seen as positive rather than running the risk of it being seen as negative.

And, finally, we need to decide what to do about the bench. The paint may weather naturally, but, if not, should we leave it or should we remove the paint. Please pass any views to the parish clerk.

Ivor McArdle
Chair of CAPC Environment Committee