Birmingham REP deface John Baskerville’s monument

[Update: Please read comment from Paul Reece from The REP below]

[Update 2: Kristian from the ad company left a comment apologising, saying they’ve removed the advert and that they’ll donate to a charity.]

In Birmingham we have a monument to the printer and typographer John Baskerville comprising of six letters spelling out “Virgil” (whose works he collected in his first publication) in his typeface. On either side of the letters is a lower piece of stone. Currently they show this:


That’s an advert for the performance of His Dark Materials at the REP theatre about 100 yards away which took place in March and April, ending over 6 weeks ago.

The advert uses a technique called reverse graffiti where a stencil is placed on a dirty piece of stonework (usually a paving stone) and sprayed with a high-powered jet of water. The exposed parts are cleaned leaving the rest dirty. Because this is essentially cleaning the stone and not permanently adding to it, it’s not illegal. Because it’s not illegal it’s been taken up by those in the business of advertising as a free and very effective way of getting their message out. But just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. I have serious qualms about this, mainly because it is, to all extents and purposes, permanent unless the perpetrator comes back and cleans the rest of the stone.

It’s clear here that the REP’s advertising monkeys haven’t bothered to remove the advert. So that’s a big fat negative. But there’s a bigger thing here. The REP, a cultural organisation of great repute, one of the shining stars of our city, have made their mark on a fucking work of art commemorating one of the people who made this city great. And have left that mark on there for over three months.
Whatever the legal situation (and I personally think anything that gives advertising and branding idiots the freedom to plaster their bullshit over out cities should be reigned in – the interesting, non-commercial reverse graffiti will still happen regardless of the law) the REP should not have sanctioned this in the first place and, once noticed, should have immediately fixed it. To have left it like this for over three months is, frankly, disgraceful.

Sort it out.

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