Street art poking fun at failing high street retail chains has been described as offensive by a Wiltshire councillor. Artist Luke Hollington, known as Syd, has hung spoof signs above empty shop fronts in Malmesbury parodying the logos of failing high street brands. The three painted shop hoardings are 'Vomit' instead of Comet, 'Blockbust' instead of Blockbusters, and an image of Nipper, the famous HMV dog, being hanged.
Liberal Democrat councillor Simon Killane said the signs gave the "wrong message about the town". According to Mr Killane, the small market town is "struggling" but has very
few chain stores and more than 40 independent businesses. "The message these signs are sending is that Malmesbury is sort of dead or
dying, which is totally false," he said. "We think our town has a future and putting pretty much offensive signs like
'Vomit' with a guy sort of splurging out on the sign - right next to a shop that
is also struggling - it's giving the wrong message.
"Those empty shops, we should be promoting them by saying Malmesbury is a
beautiful, busy and thriving town." Mr Hollingworth said the installation was "making a point" about the town's
once vibrant centre. "The three brands Comet, Blockbuster and HMV - they've never featured on
Malmesbury High Street but it really is a metaphor for the town at the moment,"
he said. "I can't get my head around why we've not got the middle of the town and High
Street sorted out and all these shops filled, when there's a lot of development
on the outskirts being planned and debated."
Despite receiving a "number of emails of support" and suggested shop names,
Mr Hollingworth said he has no plans for further mock shop signs. "These are all people who have seen the humour behind the artwork," he
said. "And I actually think it's a good reflection on the Malmesbury community that
generally they have a sense of humour and a bit of a laugh. I've got plans to do more street art but as for this installation - it's
only going to be the three."