Campus graffiti: A critic’s guide

‘Elton John is a gay man #lol’


We explore the artistic offerings round campus, from thought provoking poo charts to delicate dragonfly murals. 

This charming offering on an otherwise regular lampost takes a turn on the Cubist era, evidently inspired by Juan Gris and Thomas C. Fedro, in his early days at least.

The tag of “woman” attempts to undermine gender in a modern artistic setting. Very 2006.

Mario is that you?

This next piece gently smooths the line between fine art and vandalism. Constructed on the concrete of the concourse, its obvious Dada style and abstract approach clearly shapes the question of the permanence of structures in Sheffield.

Where are we going? What does it all mean?


But, it’s in the toilet stalls and lecture theatres that we really get to the nitty gritty.

This chair in the Richard Roberts acts as a blank canvas for the demonstration of political allegiances, and the “Free Palestine!!!” scribble set against the powerful red background gives off am urgent, almost Satanic vibe.

Classic lecture musings

Others choose to display their superior mathematical knowledge through graffiti. That sort of thing wasn’t funny in primary school, and it certainly isn’t now.

Regardless, the cold, stark clash between the black sharpie and and the ivory wall is a clear metaphor for expectations, and failed dreams.


The most delicate, and intelligent examples of graffiti come in the form of drunken ramblings scratched onto the sides of Bar One’s loos.

“Elton John is a gay man #lol”, “Students are mugs…not to be generalised without context”, and one person who chose to express how drunk they were in an artistic form: “MORTAL”.

Inspiring and thought provoking on all accounts.




A fine example of user interactive art is the notorious “rate your poo” wall in the Union men’s toilets. Our favourite replies include “Waterfall, 2/10”, “Chunks, 5/10” and “Rapture, 1/10. Ruined”.


Other examples of our campus’ wall art are much too artistic to be called graffiti at all, for example the 21st century photo-realist portrayal of a dragonfly on the way into Richard Roberts.

It’s a relatively attractive piece for a place associated with boredom,exhaustion and despair, the stunning mural gently juxtaposes the other more derogatory offerings.