A LETHAL weapon depicted in a ‘good graffiti’ project has been shot down by angry residents.

Councillors have received complaints since a giant gun was drawn as part of an art scheme for youngsters under a railway bridge in Dorchester.

It has been blasted as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘upsetting’ on a route that is used by schoolchildren along Damers Road. The mural, which has a ‘great western’ or ‘cowboy’ theme, was designed by county artist Peter Sheridan for the initiative to stop youngsters turning to vandalism.

Mr Sheridan attended a full meeting of Dorchester Town Council to explain the reasons he chose the gun.

He apologised and said he can fashion the gun into a banana or a fistful of railway tickets, if councillors wish. “I did think about the gun a lot and I thought it would be okay with the theme,” he said.

On the ‘good graffiti’ Facebook page he has explained the theme was a ‘play on words’, inspired by the movie True Grit as some is drawn in ‘reverse graffiti’– not with paint but using dirt already on the wall.

He said he thought about replacing the gun with fingers in the shape of a gun but ‘if you water down an idea it just becomes weak.’ To a complainant on the page, he added: “The main point is we will have to expect random images and messages for an open project of this nature.

“We have to expect things we don’t like or agree with. However, I have taken on your view and the good thing is, it’s only a painting.’ Although it was accepted that generally residents think it is a ‘brilliant’ piece of artwork, they were not happy about the ‘enormous gun.’ Coun Susie Hosford said: “The concern is that there is this enormous gun which is quite upsetting. It’s not appropriate to have such a weapon on a school route.”

Members of the newly-formed Dorchester Youth Council gave feedback which said it was ‘not the type of message we want to portray.’ Councillors will now have a think about what they’d like to see in the gun’s place and Mr Sheridan, who has given his time freely to the project, will make the changes.

But councillors agreed not to be ‘prescriptive’ because this would defeat the aim of the project.

  • DISTRICT councillor Gillian Summers, spearheading the project, said she believes the town council has only received one complaint.

She said hundreds of positive comments have been received about the Damers Road free wall and two other walls in Bridport and Sherborne.

She said National Rail had been ‘very pleased’ with the initiative and want to roll it out to other areas.

She said it ‘saves the town council money’ because there is a free space for expression rather than vandalising other areas.

The graffiti competition will finish in April. Updates on Twitter by following @goodgraffitiWD and at facebook.com/goodgraffiti