Saturday, 26 September 2020

Street Art on Redchurch Street


Redchurch Street in Shoreditch has changed dramatically over the years yet despite gentrification it still houses some seriously good street art. 

As part of the Shoreditch Design Triangle, itself a subset of the London Design Festival, I was asked to assess the impact of Redchurch St and the history of its street art.   The novel twist was that OnRedchurch who got in touch set up a Cabinet of Curiosities in window fronts on Redchurch St where QR codes linked to online features.   Here is a reproduction of my survey of Redchurch street art produced for the Shoreditch Design 2020 Triangle Cabinet of Curiosities.

Malarky, Ronzo, 2011

Redchurch Street with its swish boutiques, street fashion, food and coffee was until barely a decade ago a cut-through lined by roofless derelict properties and empty wasteland plots.  As street art found its home in Shoreditch, Redchurch Street’s rough surfaces, dark corners and curious small spaces came to host a huge amount of street art and to play a role in developing the careers of many significant street artists.  

Redchuch St 2008 feat ATS, Peripheral Media Projects, Toasters, Jak-D and Faile

Derelict properties led to squat galleries and exterior canvasses for street artists.  The former Section Six Gallery, now the apartment block next door to Labour and Wait, sported a kaleidoscope of stencils and paste-ups and eventually was transformed with a mural by street artist and fashion designer INSA.  

Sickboy 2008

INSA 2009

After dereliction, the next phase in an area's development sees properties made secure and ahead of redevelopment, street art becomes tolerated and occasionally explicitly consented.  Many Redchurch Street facades witnessed early street art pieces from artists such as Roa, Otto Schade and Jimmy C and others who have since gone onto international success.

Otto Schade, 2010


Mobstr, 2011

Redchurch Street still had proper corner shops until a few years ago, shutters provided prime real estate for a rolling exhibition of graffiti luminaries such as Cept and Discreet, Aset (RIP) from the ATG crew and Vibes representing the RT crew.  A significant factor was the presence of specialist spraypaint store Chrome and Black which had an entrance next door to Richmix on Redchurch St.

Cept, Dscreet, 2009

Mean, Aset (RIP) 2014

Redchurch St was a linear building site for a large part of the late noughties, extensive building site hoardings hosted furiously changing art stencils, paste-up, tags and murals by artists from the UK and abroad.  There is little doubt that street art was co-opted as a tool in the “gentrification” phase.

Dr Zadok, Meeting Of Styles 2014
Jim Vision, a spraypaint artist and key figure at the more permissioned end of the street art spectrum resided for many years on Redchurch Street.  In his role as organiser of the Meeting Of Styles graffiti festival Jim Vision arranged impressive murals on Redchurch Street as well as painting massive spectaculars himself.  He also curated a number of pop up graffiti writers and street artist group shows in several Redchurch St locations.  

Probs 2009

Jim Vision 2014

The cottage at the junction with Club Row hosted some stunning murals by Roa, James Bullough and Jim Vision as well as a long running relief sculpture by artist Cityzen Kane installed with permission as a poignant tribute to his deceased son.  

Roa 2009


Cityzen Kane, James Bullough, 2015

As is often the case galleries sprung up In advance of the arrival of boutiques. The event space at the junction of Ebor St, in its guise as the London and Newcastle Gallery was the venue for pop up exhibitions by street artists such as Borondo, Insa and Shoreditch’s own Pure Evil as well as graffiti writer group shows.  Its outside wall was the location of a piece of INSA’s pioneering “Giffiti”, an augmented reality mural which with a smartphone app would reveal a squad of policemen chasing eachother in  “The Cycle Of Futility”.

INSA 2014

Urban Angel at the junction of Redchurch St and Chance St had very distinctive shutters declaring themselves as ART, as indeed they were having been painted by EINE in 2008.   Doomed by the coincidence of its opening and the financial crash of 2008, its brief existence saw it host shows by Remi Rough, Hush, Copyright and Best Ever.   

EINE, 2008

It is hard to believe that 11 years have passed since Graffiti legend and renown musician Goldie had a two floor solo show with live painting demonstration at the Maverick Showrooms.

Goldie, "The Kids Are All Riot", 2009

At the time of going to press the London Mural Festival is in full swing and London Design Festival favourite Camille Walala has provided a huge makeover to the rear of Rich Mix at the eastern end of Redchurch St.

Camille Walala, London Mural Festival 2020

The logical trajectory of combining property development, street art and expensive shopping reaches its unavoidable conclusion with spraypainted adverts appearing where once there was street art, though having spent years honing their spraypainting skills in the riskiest circumstances, who would begrudge artists a living?

Among the niche fashion houses, beauty treatments and designer furnishing accessories Redchurch Street has not lost its edgy cool, a stroll will still yield brilliant stickers on lampposts, freehand non- permissioned portraits, art paste ups and for the especially observant, illegal bronze castings by street artist Jonesy. 

Zomby, Type, 2011
Stormie Mills, 2009
Duk, 2010  
Jimmy C, Alo, Cartrain, T.wat, Cityzen Kane 2013

Pure Evil, 2012
C215, 2013
NEOH, 2012
Unify 2014

Jonesy, 2018


Cabinet Of Curiosities, Shoreditch Design Triangle 2020 (same facade as Pure Evil above)


Thursday, 20 August 2020

disCONNECT: 1 house 10 artists



South London

24 July - 24 August 2020


Crunching up the gravel drive to a flight of steps leading to a house in a posh terrace set back from leafy Clapham Common, we peered through white double doors in an anonymous raised ground floor entrance.  As a setting for a cutting edge urban art show it seemed quite unlikely, we turned on our heels lest they set the hounds on us.  A door creaked open and a voice called “Looking for the art?”

The premise behind "disCONNECT" is that someone with money has bought a seriously expensive house and prior to doing an iceberg basement redevelopment job has invited 10 artists in to make-over the premises.   Viruses escaping from labs threw a spanner in the works though, so several of the artists incorporate a sense of the pandemic in their pieces and 6 of the artists being based overseas had to make and install their work using Skype, like scientists cautiously tweaking the location of the reactor rods by remote cctv.

Herakut, Germany


The Art world is not providing too much in the way of real life excitement these days and while one should never confuse the art world with the real world, or indeed the world of street art, it was a pleasure to experience disCONNECT for real just before it closes this week.

If I had been asked 2 weeks ago to guess which artists would feature on my uploads more than once in the next month, it would have been a hell of a rollcall before the name Alex Fakso came up.  This legendary trainyard graff snapper specialises in candid portraiture; his  2012 “Santa in Camo” show in Kensal Rise indicated a quite idiosyncratic approach to subject as did his 2017 Moniker contribution.   In this installation crowds in the photos rush towards the viewer in a way that feels horrifyingly alien in these public-gathering avoiding socially distanced coronavirus times.

Alex Fakso

Seeing Zoerism’s geometric and intricate graffiti on the streets is a rare pleasure and his anamorphic experience echoed that hugely detailed style.  Anamorphic images are designed to be viewed from one spot and look a bit skew-whiff from any other, this image was installed flat on the floor and up against the wall creating this impressive 3D “trick of the eye”.




Herakut’s fusion of photorealism and spindly elfin characters in Davy Crockett hats shouldn’t work but looks awesome.  You are invited to sit for a selfie with the monkey in the nursery -  if your chess game is up to scratch.  The kids in the playroom have painted child-like drawings on the nursery walls, they are credited to a 7 year old Ryker but is there a hint of an insider joke there?  



A double set of doors and a single door were shipped to Portugal for Vhils to work his magic, a refreshing reminder of his talent for “discovered texture” portraiture.   His mining into layers of adverts to reveal portraits works superbly where it belongs, out on the streets but it’s a bit of a puzzle why having an implausibly deep block of compressed billboard adverts would work indoors.



The dark entrance lobby was made over by a collection of Mr Cenz’ cosmic ladies, UV light brought sharpness to the highlights that define the outline of the faces, an effect we love to play with when photographing his portraits out on the streets.  Unfortunately we omitted to get any photos in the lobby though the effect can be vaguely appreciated in this mercifully brief video snippet.


feat: Isaac Cordal, Mr Cenz, Aida Wild, Zoerism


In lockdown Aida Wilde railed against the reckless anti social behaviour of people ignoring the social distancing, lockdown "stay-the-fuck-away" instructions.  Her “Granny alley” installation in the most challenging room in the house distills a lot of that passion and anger into blocks of text and her emoji infused pseudo-flock wallpaper.


Aida Wilde



Aida Wilde


After years of vicariously enjoying Icy and Sot’s art finally we saw a piece in real life.   The dining table apparently was found in the kitchen, in which case it must have been a relic from the downstairs kitchen many years ago.  The beautifully conceived and executed articulated plates and cutlery apparently represent capitalism with the extension leaves up and a full plate on the table.  With the extension down symbolised socialism, in which case this neither-up-nor-down configuration pretty much sums up post-Corbyn Labour.

Icy and Sot


Issac Cordal’s morose concrete figures endured this Summer’s monsoon in the garden and just about maintained their social distance in a gloomy basement.

 Isaac Cordal


Flock was clearly in vogue when the house was last given a decor update as the pattern recurs in several of the installations.  Adam Neate bid for the window blinds and the colour and texture makes a great skin motif in his ghostly portraiture


Adam Neate


This show exceeded expectations, though that says more about our expectations than the artists involved. The unbalanced capitalisation of the show title exhorts to us to somehow re-connect in these desperate times where isolation is salvation and this show is worth connecting with.  Time is running out though and indeed thanks to covid restrictions tickets are very limited.

All photos: Dave Stuart