Monday, 29 April 2013

Bring Back The Aardvark Graffiti

Graffiti art by Jon 'JonOne' Watson
Photo by Doug Belshaw (
Blyth/Ashington, UK, 2009)
(from Doug Belshaw's Flickr page, 2009)
This graffiti has adorned the underside of a bridge on the spine road near my parents' house for as long as I can remember. It must have been there 20 years. I quite like it, but I suppose that's because it reminds me of being younger...

(from the article 'Teenager Starts Campaign To Bring Back Aardvark Graffiti', 5 February 2010)
It's not often that people welcome the sight of graffiti in their neighbourhoods. But that was exactly the case in one community - until well-meaning officials wiped out a much-loved piece of urban art. A 6ft mural of the 1970s comic book character Cerebus the Aardvark had brightened up a bridge near Blyth for nearly three decades until its disappearance last weekend. Despite its popularity, Northumberland County Council blitzed the colourful design as part of a crackdown on graffiti.

But after noticing that his favourite landmark had been covered over, youngster Kris Akwei-Howe decided to start a campaign demanding that the painting, which was under a bridge alongside the A189 spine road between Blyth and Ashington, be brought back. The 13-year-old, from Widdrington Station, set up a group on Facebook, which has already attracted 1,410 members in just a few days, with more people signing up to show their support by the minute. 

Called 'Cerebus the Spine Road Aardvark - Bring him back!', the group has united the community, with members working together to pinpoint the origins of the urban art. Some people have suggested that the aardvark presided over the road since the 1980s when it was created by local artist Jon Watson. Jon, who is believed to have since passed away, is rumoured to have been fined at the time for his colourful creation.

(from the article 'Family Of Artist Hit Out At Council', 9 February 2010)
...Jon, who was also known as Jon 1, who lived in West Sleekburn and worked as a support teacher at West Sleekburn Middle School. He died in 1999 of a hole in the heart. His sister, Sharron Watson, said: "We were so sad to hear that Jon's work had been painted over – his kids Ellie and Niall are very upset that someone has painted over it, because it was a sort of lasting memorial of Jon. Jon loved to spray paint, and even though he got fined for doing Cerebus, he did it because he loved it, and everyone loved Cerebus and knew it was there. It's such a shame it has been painted over, because he cannot ever repaint it. Why have they waited so long to paint over it?"

Kris Akwei-Howe, 13, set up the Facebook group which has already attracted more than 1,400 members in less than a week, to show their support for Cerebus. Kris's dad Bruce Fraser said: "It was passed by thousands of motorists each day, a welcome home that predates the Angel [Of The North] by some 20 years. This piece of urban art was so well loved by locals in the Ashington/Blyth area, and the artist died in his late twenties and was a much-loved local teacher. We know it can't be repainted, but perhaps the work can be restored? Whatever happens, the local community are up in arms."

(from the comments at Choppington Journal, 23 July 2010)
I'm JonOne's son and I think it was great but sometimes things just have to go :)

1 comment:

M Southall said...

We have a ten minute feature with Dave Sim on this that we never aired on http://Cerebus.TV - but that may become part of a future show!