First up, tell us a bit about where you are from and your background with graffiti.
I’m from Hinckley originally and started painting there around 1985. From those early days I made connections with Leicester Writers and I spent the late 80s / 90s painting there at sites across the city. In the early 90s I worked on a lot of youth projects in the city delivering graffiti themed workshops. I had also travelled a lot around the UK and painted in most of the big cities.
Leicester has a rich heritage of graffiti and you’ve played a key role in a major event that helped support this over 20 years ago – Return of The Macks. Tell us a bit about how this came about.
Around 1995 I worked with Andy Hitchcock at Central Youth project and the project was to deliver workshops on hoardings owned by Leicester city Challenge on western boulevard. During these workshops I mentioned to the director Sue Sanford about expanding the project to cover the entire length of the hoardings. They agreed and were willing to back it which meant all i had to do was deliver it with a concept idea. I wanted to create a Graffiti battle mainly for writers to be judged by writers and incorporating many different styles.
I had about 2 months to organise it which meant a lot of letter writing, travelling and meeting writers and securing paint. For this event we had zero budget but for me it was important for it to happen as I wanted to see something in Leicester which would be nationally recognised but also inspire the next generation of writers coming up.
What did Return of The Macks do for the scene in Leicester?
I think for the scene in Leicester it brought everyone to a location which could be a meeting and painting spot. Beyond Leicester the event was aired on a late night Arts show called ‘ Shift’ and had featured in Hip Hop Connection. This was really before the internet so this was an event you had to see with your eyes and take photos.
For me Return of the macks showed that large scale graffiti events could be successful and show the culture of the city to people who may not be active participants in the culture. The event gave me confidence to think bigger and learn how to operate within a corporate structure. Andy Hitchcock at Central Youth Project was a major driving force getting this event green lighted and I can’t thank him enough for his input.
Beyond Leicester, what did this event do? We’re aware that artists like SHOK went on to establish major careers in this art form. DO you think your event or even events like these play a part in that story?
A lot of major artists in the UK now were at Return of the macks and have made creating art their livelihoods and are world class. I remember Temper saying that this event kick started his commercial career and this was what i wanted to achieve with it and the event definitely played a part in that.
What pieces stood out for you?
The pieces that stood out for me were Shoks, Tempers, Bristol Massives and Rowdys crew.
As part of the 2017 you revisited ROTM as part of Bring The Paint Festival. How did that come about? Did any of the artists from the original event attend?
In 2017 I was involved in creating a reunion of Return Of The Macks which came about after chatting with Graff HQ. For this event I wanted to pull in some of the Old heads from the original event and add some of the talent from London which is now my home city. So having Chips, Pad303, JXC, Sofly and Mutatis and a few from the West country added to it nicely. I kept the line up manageable so it could be delivered stress free.
What are the key things that you feel defined Leicester during that era? Any key walls / events / writers that you feel describe that time?
I would say the things that defined Leicester at the time were a tight knit scene that was waiting for expansion. My era was really 1987/88/89 so in 1996 a lot of people had quit or were just ticking over. My guy has always been Caper so for me just having him paint on the day made everything worthwhile.
What are you up to now?
Fast forward around 26 years and I am still involved with graffiti; managing the Stockwell Hall of Fame in Brixton as well as working on various community projects here. I always have love for the culture and I’m grateful that 24 years on Return of the Macks still gets held in high esteem by writers.
For more info on his projects check
facebook: Return of the macks
facebook Stockwell hall of fame