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Some of the most visible wonders of the aftermath Jack Layton's death were the chalkings in Nathan Phillips Square, and their outpourings of admiration, grief, and hope.

One person who linked to it observed that this would never happen in Britain. He was thinking it in the context of no politician being sufficiently loved and admired; but I thought it in a different way.

No one chalks here. The sidewalks are too narrow or busy and it is too closely associated with grafitti=vandalism. I am certain I read an article the other year about children out drawing on sidewalks who were fined for public vandalism.

Are there even ever chalkings at British universities to advertise events? I do not remember them offhand; certainly not the way my US undergraduate institution was, the paved paths periodically alive with student government campaigns and a capella concert announcements. The university near where I grew up had yearly chalking competitions, an entire street pedestrianized and densely, elaborately drawn on down its length by competing artists and teams. I spent hours as a child drawing in chalk on the sidewalk in front of the house, transient artwork which faded with passing storms.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 29th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
Don't forget National Coming Out Day! ;)

(I drew on the streets in chalk, too, when I was a kid.)
Aug. 29th, 2011 09:00 am (UTC)
People do chalk things on the campus at Leeds sometimes, e.g. around the time of Student Union elections. But I don't think it's as organised or widespread as what you're describing for the states.
Aug. 29th, 2011 09:47 am (UTC)
Another thing working against it in the UK is the Great British Climate and strong likelihood of pouring rain at any given time.
Aug. 29th, 2011 09:48 am (UTC)
There used to be pavement artists in the UK when I lived there. Also various kids games that involved chalk on the pavement. Given how much it rains I don't think chalk would be much use for advertising campaigns or events.
Aug. 29th, 2011 11:11 am (UTC)
Edinburgh chalks a lot. It was a massive thing - I think maybe it's a pavement size issue?
Aug. 29th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
An odd thing, is that no one at the University of Southern California seems to chalk. But people at the University of California, Los Angeles, do. (Not as much as we did at Cornell when the weather was nice, but I've seen a little.)

I wonder why that should be. Is there a policy? Sort of like the little pillars put up to hold flyers?
Aug. 30th, 2011 10:22 am (UTC)
There are a couple of places at the University of York which tend to collect chalked advertisements for student plays, but there's one constant one whose origins are lost in student urban myth: Ah Good, The Sea. As far as I know, it's still there, being re-chalked periodically.

There's also a guy who does The Last Supper (and similar) in chalks outside York Minster in Summer.
Aug. 30th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
There was uproar the year that the Cambridge Student Union elections brought chalkers to the streets of that fair city. Seriously, I think someone was actually charged for it.
Aug. 30th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
Kids do still play hopscotch here, or at least they did when I was young. :)
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC)
I saw chalking in London on Saturday and thought immediately of this discussion. It was outside Tate Modern and several large text bubbles had various answers to a question about how London could be better if... It was the first time I noticed chalking in a conversational instead of pavement art context in the UK.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )