‘Expression’ by Teddy Bulpett, year 11, Westcliff High School for Boys

With each step, the sound reverberates back at me, bouncing off every dull and standard house. I was sure that my purpose in life was to bring colour to this dark gloomy town; it needed to be done and no-one else was going to do it but me. As I opened my bag, the cans rattled with excitement, waiting to coat and cover the bricks that stood before me. The first stroke seemed the most eloquent like the first note played by a pianist however, on its own it seemed out of place and ‘wrong’. I had to continue. With each colour, the letters began to form a beautiful image. I battled against the fumes as with each mark, the unbearable aroma continued to grow. It felt like I was breathing in the car exhaust from my mother’s car at home.

Oh, how she screamed and yelled at me every time I would display my artistic ability. When the light hit the blank beige walls, something felt off and even at the age of seven years old, it was like an itch that couldn’t be scratched in the back of my mind. I had decided to transform it into a vibrant world, somewhere where you could let your imagination run wild. Exploring the amazon, locating Atlantis, climbing Everest, wherever you wanted to go, it could be achieved. My fun was short lived however:

“What have you done?!” My mum screamed, “I leave you for ten minutes and you decide to ruin my wall?!”

Ruin? What did she mean ruin? I fixed it. Could she not see that? Rather than the ugly uninviting wall that was there before, now stood a paradise of colour, emotion and imagination.

“If you don’t clean this up within the next thirty minutes, I’m confiscating your I-pad for a month!” She exclaimed.

How could she make me do this? Destroy my work? No, it had to stay.

Footsteps snapped me back into reality. I had always wondered why spray-painting walls that previously hadn’t been used was illegal. Vandalism? Is that the word nowadays for art? The footsteps kept approaching I hadn’t finished my work yet and people were already going to find it and report it. The footsteps stopped. I sunk into the shadows. It was just two kids they didn’t care in fact they said:

“This actually looks sick you know, can’t wait to see it finished.”

Validation, what I had been seeking for so long was finally gifted to me by two teenagers. As they exited the tunnel I began to finish my work. The message was not yet complete. The cans were my voice and this was them singing. Shortly after the boys left, the colours concluded towards the edge of the tunnel and as I stepped back the violent tones of red and orange stood out to me, but that was what this was about this wasn’t just here ‘to look cool’ it meant something and on the wall it read: “Expression”.