The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 182

The power of urban street art in re-naturing urban imaginations and experiences


29 June 2016

Author: Claire Malaika Tunnacliffe

Publication Date: June 2016

Urban street art is a powerful tool in rejecting the experience of the urban, provoking an engagement of urbanites with their environment, and in re-socialising public spaces. Encounters with urban street art within the everyday create social interstices, opening up ways of seeing and feeling the world differently; allowing for a creative feedback loop between artist, individual spectator and society.

Through the lens of environmentally engaged urban street art, this working paper explores how this artistic and social movement reconnects the natural and social worlds within an increasingly urban existence. By disconnecting from the world around us, we have forgotten the natural and social entanglements that make up the fabric of the urban context, and in doing so we continue to create irreparable damages to the environment. With environmentally engaged urban street art disrupting the mainstream experience of the urban, the spectator is provided with an alternative vision of the world at play within the everyday setting.

As a result, it is proposed that at the crossroads between urban street art and everyday life, the spectator evolves from a passive to an active participant in the contemporary make up of urban cities. By awakening new understandings and raising consciousness, environmentally engaged urban street art provokes a reengagement of urbanites with the environment, acting as a catalyst for transformative social change. 

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