AN artist has denied his work is making Southsea look like a ghetto after a heated exchange with a councillor and her husband.
But Portsmouth City Council’s Tory cabinet member for culture, Councillor Linda Symes, took issue with the work directly opposite her – and says no-one thought to let her know it was happening.
That resulted in a heated confrontation in the street between the artists and the senior councillor at the weekend, which spilled over onto Twitter.
But now the issue has been resolved after assurances were made the artwork was only temporary and will be painted over in a month’s time.
Fark – whose full name is Mark Jones – said: ‘Linda’s husband was standing in his front room looking out and it was like steam was coming out of his ears.
‘I spoke to him at his front door and said this was an art project and we are looking to bring something new to the area – but he said we were trying to turn the area into a ghetto.
Linda’s husband was standing in his front room looking out and it was like steam was coming out of his ears.Street artist Fark
‘At this point, Linda came charging through the door asking what I was doing.
‘They were both ranting at me.
‘She just kept saying to me I didn’t have permission, this was a conservation area.
‘She went “right, it will be gone by the morning, I can’t believe you have done this Mark, you really should have come and seen me.”
Mr Jones, 43, who runs Tea Tray cafe, in Osborne Road, with his wife Nicky, 35, insists he had knocked on Cllr Symes’ door to let her know about the work, but there was no answer. But he said Cllr Symes has since apologised for her outburst.
Cllr Symes insists the issue was not the artwork itself but the fact she was never informed.
She said her husband Pat had made the ‘ghetto’ comment but it was in the heat of the moment.
‘We are very supportive of street work, but we were upset,’ she said.
‘We were upset because it had just happened.
‘Nobody had been bothered to ask us and this has nothing to do with my job, that shouldn’t come into this.’
‘He could have text, emailed, wrote me a message on Facebook, called me or left a note through my door,’ she said.
‘We came home and saw all these blokes down the road painting these huge things on the wall – we didn’t know if they were graffitists or if the work was permanent, and I was furious.
‘If I am going to have to look at something for a month, they should have at least had the courtesy to tell me.
‘This wasn’t about me as a councillor, that was me as a resident.’
Cllr Symes questioned whether the artwork would be seen by a wide audience.
‘How many people are going to see that work down a side road?’ she said.
‘You would have to go into that road specifically to see it.
‘I am quite happy for it to stay there a month, after that I will contact the local authority.’
Mr Jones has also helped to create street art outside the former Zurich building, Fratton Park, Southsea Skatepark and along Winston Churchill Avenue.