Road safety is often considered a topic that is 'uncool' and some go to the extent as calling it 'unsexy', yet YOURS has been revolutionizing that notion for many years. In those years, we have come across incredible pracitices for road safety that firmly place their ideas outside of the box and create something new, engaging and innovative. A case example is a recently graffiti workshop conducted by Mohammad Ali, a world famous graffiti artist who took up the cause of road safety recently.
The Art of Mohammed Ali is described as challenging the oft-heard term ‘clash of civilisations.’ with his fusion of street-art and islamic script, along with conscious messages that speak to people of different faith traditions. He describes his work as, ‘taking the best of both worlds.’ and bringing back to the forefront principles that are fading away from our modern societies.
He writes about his experiences on coupling graffiti with road safety themes at his blog here and we have adapted it for our website here:
A few years ago, I was invited to the Muscat Youth Summit, which is an annual gathering that happens in Muscat, Oman. It’s a gathering of creatives, thinkers and doers, ranging from artists to film-makers through to experts on road safety issues. It’s the second time I was invited and this time, road safety was a key theme of the summit. Hundreds of young people had gathered for a weekend at a top costal resort, supported by the government, hungry to learn from the experts that had gathered from around the world.
A car being prepared for the graffiti and road safety project.
It was the first time I had met the team at YOURS – Youth For Road Safety – and enjoyed exploring the theme of road safety, something I’ve taken for granted back at home in the UK . I realised that this was a society that doesn’t have much awareness around road safety – very different to growing up in the UK, where I still hear the resounding words of STOP, LOOK and LISTEN!
I wanted to do a short write up of the experience from back then, as recently I began working on a project in Malaysia that centres around road safety so I wanted to share some thoughts around the issue of how art can be used to explore themes around road safety. I find myself returning to the exciting prospect of painting a car and as a visual artist, I think there is no better canvas than painting onto a car itself!
Youth split the car and paint one side based on 'Life' and the other on 'Death' exploring road safety.
In Muscat i was given an old white car that someone had donated for the cause! The car was parked next to the beach, and the white surface of the car was just begging to be painted.
The arts have the power to transform a mindset, more so than any P.R campaign, leaflet or website. Together we explored heavy issues around the concept of Life and Death, as two experiences that were represented on either side of the car. The group developed a collage of stencils that were then sprayed onto the bonnet of the car, so it became a strong participatory project. I had the job of finessing and sharpening the final piece.
The side of the car exploring 'death' on the road, illustrates the non-use of seatbelts as a major cause of injury during road crashes in Oman.
Street-Art is a powerful medium to explore issues that we have in urban spaces. The nature of street-art was such that it was designed to spill out into the cities we live in, taking the message literally to the streets. The car is just an extension of a brick wall, another unconventional place for art to be placed, and by doing so, the message stands out and hits the viewer in an extraordinary way. In an age of information overload, blurry visual landscapes, we need to find alternative ways to get important messages across to the masses.
Youth participate in road safety messages for graffiti.
Manpreet Darroch, Communications Officer at YOURS commented, 'Youth are a diverse bunch and when working with a multitude of young people from different backgrounds, we've seen that art is something that youth orientate towards naturally. This project by Mohammad Ali is a fantastic example of how we can make road safety engaging and 'sexy' for youth and explore poignant themes around road safety. I hope to see more projects like this in the future'.
Read more and see more pictures at Mohammad Ali's website.