I wanted to take a shot of it for posterity. It’s not high art, it doesn’t have a cutting Banksy-esque message to shout out, but neither is it a mindless shitty graffito. It isn’t a wall-spanning work of spray-can mastery. What makes it so fascinating – and what makes it stick in my mind so much – is that this is the only example of it I am aware of, it has no name or tag anywhere, and seems almost meaningless. No obvious message, no obvious creator, it just is.
It’s a wonderfully and beautifully simple and evocative little piece, a perfect example of “less is more”. Why the poignantly melancholy expression? What does it mean? Who does it respresent, what is the message? Why did the artist go to the trouble of putting it on a box in the middle of humdrum suburbia? Why is it on this little box and not the big fuck-off Cable cabinet next to it (out of shot)? It bugs me that the message and meaining are so well hidden.
Think about it – if you were going to go to all the trouble of getting a piece of card, drawing this face onto it, cutting out the holes to make a spray mask and then painting it onto something you would most likely make the message or the meaning a little obvious, do it somewhere prominent, be making it of someone recogniseable, or stick your name or tag on it somewhere. But this is so seemingly inert, so random and unique and so out of the way…it bugs me. Bugs the arse off me. It’s sits in the back of my mind like a mental hangnail.
It means something, and I want to know what. It’s like an earworm of the visual cortex. If you recognise it (full size image here), or have seen it somewhere else in or around Manchester (or anywhere else) or know anything about it, I would like to know. I’m just interested. I certainly hope that whatever the Royal Mail have in this cabinet, they decide to leave the art where it is and don’t paint over it. It the simplest yet most striking piece of street art I have seen in a long time.