Since the council decided that their former social work headquarters at Shrubhill was surplus to requirements the site has lain empty, alongside the adjoining, and partially demolished bus depot, despite the odd fringe show and various proposals for housing and hotel developments on the site coming and going.
The site has however taken on another life. Earlier this year, the unsightly, half demolished building was dubbed the big society headquarters. Is it a joke? Is it a comment on society? No-one could really work it out – even if it did raise a wry smile from passers by.
Allthough the big society sign eventually died of natural causes, as the graffiti on the skeleton of the building testifies, people could get in to it and paint it.
This caused health and safety concerns in the council and recently it was boarded up more firmly with steel panels to stop people getting into the building.
However, people can still get onto the Shrubhill site – and that includes the graffiti artists who have voiced their frustration at the doorway where they used to get in to the old office block by painting a blunt message on the door.
The photo above, which we found on Facebook courtesy of a Leither who has been into the site, was followed by a few comments to the effect that the colourful graffiti on the building was an improvement on the new grey steel shutters.
And a quick search of Flickr shows how busy the graffiti fans have been – both in the old office building and the depot. Here’s a photo of the roof of the Shrubhill office building.
And here’s one from inside:
Here’s another one from inside:
Here’s one in the depot:
Here’s another one:
And here’s another one featuring some old cartoon characters:
And this is part graffiti, part sculpture:
You can find more photos of Shrubhill on Flickr here.
Whilst we can appreciate that the council probably had no choice to board the building up in case someone hurt themselves – the photos show that the Shrubhill site has become something like a diy art gallery. You might not like it, and it is probably illegal, but some of it certainly looks pretty good. And social media has done a pretty good job of documenting the best of the work.
Artists/vandals (delete as appropriate) unknown.