Once in a while something really exciting comes along, and this is one of those times. Many thanks for Mister Parker for sending in this, an interview from January 1987 with Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja, 3 DEE as it seems he was then, or Delge as he still apparently is to friends. For those who don’t immediately recognise him, he’s best known as one of the guys out of Massive Attack. But he was also a massive pioneer of graffiti, at the very least in Bristol, and probably the UK itself.
It’s from a magazine called ‘LM’, not apparently anything to do with ‘Living Marxism’ magazine which wasn’t setup until a year or so later, but a short lived magazine that only ran for a couple of months.
These are photos of the article at the moment, one of the whole thing, and ones of either side, but hopefully better quality scans can be sorted out. Click on them for very much biggerness, some of it’s slightly unreadable, but the main article is transcribed below anyway. Some of the pieces in it are also featured (from different angles) in the excellent ‘Children of the Can‘, so will add locations to them if better scans turn up. See if you can spot someone else referenced in the article who went on to bigger things too…
The derelict walls of Bristol are a gallery for the works of graffiti artist 3 DEE. He took photographer BEEZER on a guided tour to look at some of his surviving pieces – but many have since been wiped out or painted over.
Delge is a graffiti artist. He’s 21 years old and he lives and works in Bristol under the nom-de-can of 3 DEE. Delge reckons he was the first serious graffiti artist in the country; his first forays into the streets with cans of car paint were in 1983, soon after the closure of Bristol’s famous Dugout club left the city with no real entertainment except for a flourishing hip-hop scene.
Although much of his work is commissioned, Delge carries on with the illegal ‘sprays’ and it’s having to concentrate on work while risking a fine or even imprisonment which keeps the adrenalin flowing. His illegal works are, he says, more important than the commissions which subsidise them. ‘I like the excitement, the buzz. With commissioned work there’s no atmosphere.’
Delge has been arrested twice. The first time, in 1984, he was fined £125; the second time he was fined £40 and had a taste of the Government’s ‘short, sharp shock’ policy. It was actually more of a long, dull pain in the neck, since he had to go to an attendance centre once every fortnight for 16 weeks – but it hasn’t deterred him from committing more crimes, though he’s more careful these days to use lookouts. Next time he’s caught, Delge reckons, he’ll be put away.
But he says it’s not vandalism. ‘I’d prefer to call it positive vandalism – graffiti art has had a bad press, and some kids don’t help by just going round spraying their names on the walls, but all I’m doing is brightening the place up. There are worse things happening.’
Delge mostly uses car paint for his murals, but it’s unreliable, and if he could afford it he’d use Buntlack, a German art paint which costs around £6 per can.
But his main problem at the moment isn’t money. Delge says he’s running out of walls. ‘I only choose walls which are isolated. Painted surfaces are best – the spraypaint sinks into brick walls. Sometimes I’ve had to paint a wall before being able to spray a mural onto it.’
Delge is a founder member of the Trans-Atlantic Federation (slogan: ‘United In Crime’), which links together artists from Bristol (represented by Delge), the Bronx (represented by Brim and Bio) and Birmingham (represented by an artist called Goldie). An international exhibition of graffiti art featuring the TAF and American artists in planned for Birmingham in 1987.
UPDATE 09/08/09: Thanks again to MISTER PARKER for taking the time with these, here’s some better quality scans of the article for you, again with much biggerness clicking functionality.