Monday, 10 March 2014

Hit Shot Wall - a wet month!

All photos: NoLionsInEngland (HowAboutNo pretending there were no trains all month from the South Coast, that's 4 x 5 = 20 days working from home, yeah!)

February has been a month of unrelenting street art activity by street artists clad mainly in anoraks and wellington boots. Going to kick our look back this month, a month where the elements really tested the longevity of paper based art, with a sculptural slant.

Love Piepenbrinck placed several new fancy dress piggies out on the streets and has teased us with a photo on Facebook captioned “Most Hidden Piggy – almost impossible to even photograph”, which we haven’t seen hide nor hair of.

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“Lay Off My Blue Suede Shoes”

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Camouflage Piggy

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Para Piggy

French street artists delight in showing us how it should be done, Nemi Uhu has placed a series of beautiful painted tiles on the Shoreditch streets.

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Nemi Uhu

Another French artist who really got up on a lot of walls was Gregos, over in connection with the Vitry Ville Street Art book signing. He does these cast selfies, they supposedly show his emotional condition each day and a lot of the London ones are poking their tongue out at us, bloody French!


One of the weirdest bit of street art we have seen in a long while is this space hopper stuck up in a tree by 616. Not so much referencing its context as totally subverting its environment, or perhaps is it actually meant to look like an oversize orange?

616 Space Hopper

Alex Arnell believes in giving away street art and places hundreds of hand cut and painted paper butterflies on walls. With the volume of rain we had in the month of February, Alex seems to have decided that the last place butterflies would want to hang out is down the drains and here a flock seem to be fleeing out of a manhole.

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Alex Arnell aka "Sell Out"

Without doubt one of the cleverest and most exciting things we have seen this month, perhaps this year, has been Borondo’s face by the canal on Hackney Wick, already drooled over on this Borondo Hits London Graffoto blog post.


Dee One’s Heavenly Rejects have been a delightful presence on the Shoreditch streets for about a year, his minature pieces such as devils painted on acorns is often easy to pass by. One of his most pleasing and most difficult to spot is this aquatic scene.

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Dee One

Don has been out painting the wall in February and we caught him in action one afternoon painting this girl cuddling her pet goat, once again Don comes up as about the most adventurous and detailed British stencil street artist active on outdoor walls.


This skateboarder by Unify is defying the no skateboarding prohibition as all good skateboarders must, though if you look closely maybe not is all as it seems with the sign! With the mooted demise of the Undercroft at its current location, I wonder if Unify has dropped this one just outside the skatepark? It's begging for it.

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Ben Slow created this portrait in support of Depaul, the message is don't let their story end on the street.

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Ben Slow

One of the most impressive and photogenic paintings in February was this little beauty by C215, over for a show (now closed) at StolenSpace.

C215 at night

K-Guy has been busy on the streets recently, his original Tr*ash fag packet paste ups were a delight back in the early days of my love for street art and he has now revived them with this reflection on the latest health demon – high sugar levels in food.

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Mr Cenz has also had a highly productive month painting letters and portraits, perish the presence of all the cars in this, errrr, car park.

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Mr Cenz

I can’t be sure when Mobstr painted this stencil but I only found it February, so because I love the humour and the ironic fun at the expense of social media obsessed street art fans, it counts as February in my time-warped calendar.

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Bit late this month and a bit rushed but fun as always.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Borondo hits London

All photos: NoLionsInEngland

Every once in a while a street artist creates a soaring spectacular piece of street art which resets the benchmark and blows the mind, and recently Spanish artist Borondo did just that with a breathtakingly original piece in Hackney Wick. A little bit of recent history first though, he came to London last Autumn and left behind some tasty new street art.  We were impressed but didn’t realise that was merely starters.

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The first works we saw were shadowy sketchy figures on the outside of windows, rendered by painting the windows white then scrapping the paint off using a thick touch turtle-shell coloured comb.


He did a set of windows on a building which has been refurbished and opened as a Mexican Cantina. At least it was last week, I haven’t yet been back today.

Borondo: Dias/Noche

Further up in the heart of Brick Lane he did this face.


He also dropped a large mural up in old street and then earlier this year painted a gate in Hoxton alongside Jaz.


Borondo/Jaz collab
Borondo with Jaz, Hoxton

Now the piece-de-resistance,this stunning, hugely inventive and unusual piece appeared recently beside a canal in Hackney Wick. The idea of painting the face upside down so that its reflection appears the right way un is pure genius, a great example of the use of environment and context in a very unusual way.


Strong winds prevailing over the past month have yielded very few opportunities to get photos of this in still, mirror-like conditions but the upside of the catching ripples on the water is that Barondo’s character becomes animated! Whatever the poor chap is enduring we probably shouldn’t pry into but there is certainly a lot of pain and distress being articulated by the poor chap.

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The Many Faces Of Borondo

The art of Borondo does sometimes feature on Shoreditch Street Art Tours - subject to route and the art being there!

Borondo's blog is here

UPDATE: bumped into Borondo again this afternoon, here is a "making of" video by Fabiano Caputo of the Hackney Wick Narcissus.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

HISTORY! - Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant Subway Art Interviews Back In The Day!

I don't know how I have missed this, I have not seen it before but this contemporary short film is absolutely fascinating. A sprightly Martha Cooper jumps on top of car roofs to get those outdoor whole train panorama shots while Henry Chalfant does one of the best impressions of Keith Haring ever (ok...maybe I exaggerate).

Merci Beaucoup to French graff blog AllCityBlog for bringing this to my attention.

I met Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant  in 2009 at Black Rat when they came to London to release the 25th Anniversary edition of Subway Art.  That was an incredibly exciting experience for me.   None of us will ever replicate their achievement of truely discovering a new artform that had not been documented before quite like the way they did it.

To see what I wrote at that time about that anniversary edition of Subway Art and the experience of meeting Martha, Henry and NY legend Blade who was over with them, click HERE

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Best of London Street Art Part 2 - The Mural Bites Back

London has witnessed in 2013 a pretty significant growth in the number of large scale street art productions created with permission and indeed it seems, a growth in the number of organisations arranging spots for artists. Whilst Graffoto’s natural tendency is to prefer street art created without permission, we don’t judge just because something is painted without the frission of illegality, which is anyway a over-romanticised notion most of the time when what is really meant is “without explicit permission”.

We review the big, the wild, the bright and the spectacular here in part 2 of our review of 2013’s London street art, part 1 looked at the grittier less house trained stuff done without permission and should be read first HERE 

Words: NoLionsInEngland
Photos: NoLionsInEngland except HowAboutNo where stated.

Moniker Art Fair moved location and changed up a gear in October, attracting a large number of street art galleries and street artists. One of the best consequences was the lads from Souled Out Studios, Bon and Alex Face from Thailand and Mau Mau from the West Country painting this fun composition in which they gave Roa’s iconic bird a leg, which they proceed to barbecue.

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Bon, Mau Mau, Alex Face. Also feat Roa, Martin Ron

Not far away Alex Face and Bon illustrate themselves literally delivering a splash of colour to London’s walls.

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Alex Face, Bon

Dal East played a cunning game with a series of murals, staging a competition based around photographing all his fresh London murals which you could only complete by photographing the final hidden mural revealed at the launch of his London show.

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Dal East

At the same time Faith 47 executed her most spectacular work in London to date, though the timing won’t surprise anyone aware that Dal East and Faith47 are a married couple.

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The most stunning project by a mile was spraycan virtuoso Shok-1’s ten part X-Ray Rainbows paintings which commenced in 2012 and concluded in August 2013. Not all of our photographs in this slide show capture the pieces in their best condition as the artist intended, sorry Shok-1 Sir.

All photos: NoLionsInEngland

Miss Van’s last outdoor wall decoration in London was an illegal piece out in Ladbroke Grove, West London which survived until about 2007 so it was nice that she painted this stunning piece in Shoreditch in collaboration with Italian sculptor Ciro Schu.

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Miss Van, Ciro Schu (with Pure Evil mugging in the shot

Cranio visited from Brazil for the second time in just under 12 months and did a mixture of stunning illegal, permissioned and gallery work all based around the theme of the Amazon Indians indulging themselves with the gains from selling off their rainforest.

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The permissioned Cranio collaboration with HIN photographed below caused a little upset and mural organiser censorship, not because of the nudity or the suicide bomber or the obscene gestures but seemingly due to the pasted face portraits of evil dictators.

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Cranio, HIN, feat Alex Senna

Roa worked his large scale magic in a couple of London spots, most visibly on the Southbank but to more gory effect in an alley on the way to Hackney.


Alex Senna seemed to get to paint lots of spots in the Shoreditch area, this one featured a then topical nod to the new born Prince George.

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Alex Senna

Award for the least appropriate most thoughtless mural goes to the upside down break dancer painted by Martin Ron next to Roa’s bird on Hanbury Street, you might as well try to fit a Jackson Pollock and a Turner on the same canvas for all the relationship and harmony there is between the two subjects on that wall. After Cosmo Sarsen first in Bristol and Above in Shoreditch before him in 2013, did we really need another upside down breakdancer anyway?

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Martin Ron v. Roa, no contest!

During the London Art Fair week RYCA put up a crisp clean Clone troopers paste up collage on the boards erected outside Shoreditch Junk following the McDonalds sponsored buff at that spot.

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A particularly wild and wet night saw RYCA's paste up virtually jet blasted off the wall producing an effect RYCA liked so much he repaired the damage by recreating it with paste ups and stencils. As a sort of post script note – the weather over the Christmas break has added real damage to the simulated damage!

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Zadok has hit a lot of walls, not all of them necessarily with prior consent we suspect but all superbly realised.

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Dr Zadok

One of our favourite permissioned pieces in 2013 is the wild abstract assault RSH executed on the Lord Napier premises at Hackney Wick just prior to the Hackney Wicked Festival, a stunning visual attack on premises and eyeballs.

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One of the less fortunate projects realised during the year has been the “rejuvenation” of Hackney’s canal sides. Where once there was un-curated street art and graffiti there is now, in the case of the old sugar factory wall, a huge mural painted by foreign artists (ok..Scottish in one case) and rumour has it then coated with anti graffiti paint, oh the irony. So, that’s the displacement of many local un-curated artists in favour of curated and protected outsiders, not surprising really that feathers have been ruffled in the area. Nevermind, it’ll look nice in the brochure and the Olympic Legacy reports.

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Lyken, Moneyless

A local based artist who has been getting good walls this year is Dale Grimshaw who pulled off a couple of stunning gothic horror portraits, which is a good thing of course.

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Dale Grimshaw

Dan Kitchener got a lot of spraypaint onto walls this year as well, it’s hard to decide whether to favour the underground tracks paintings or the rainy neon nights studies more, he does them both beautifully.

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Dan Kitchener

Jimmy C has a pretty productive year, apparently the first of these images produced a 3D effect when viewed through 3D glasses, which could explain all those weird glasses we see people wearing in the area.


Jimmy C photos by HowAboutNo

Seems you could hardly walk around Shoreditch this year without seeing a new Lost Souls mural, bloody everywhere!

Lost Souls feat Captain Kris, SP047, Si Mitchell, Squirl

As usual, all opinions are those of the authors of Graffoto, happy to share ;-)

Happy New Year to all Graffoto readers and may you have a happy and colourful 2014.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

London's Street Art 2013 - Nostalgia is so last year

They said it wouldn’t last and dammit they were right. The year turned out to be mortal, just 365 days long but attaching electrodes to 2013’s nipples, street artists cranked the generator handle to keep fresh work fizzing on the walls right to the very death. Let’s look back over the highlights, the brilliant walls, the teeny-weeny you’d-easily-miss-it fragments, the colours, the visiting international artists, the spats, the local artists who aren’t getting curated spots on permission mural walls, the REAL street art.

Words and photos: NoLionsInEngland

Street art is not a competition but Art Is Trash is 2013’s winner. Brash, colourful, inventive and at times downright lewd and crude, Art Is Trash turned his installations and painting into a performance. It was his ephemeral tragic bin bag characters and beasts that first caught our eye.

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Art Is Trash

He then took the fight to fly posters (ok, I know street art is doomed to lose that battle) with some twisted subversions of the airbushed, cool and fulfilled characters targeting our needy and product deprived community.

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Art Is Trash

His cure for tapeworm may face challenges getting medical certification.

Art Is Trash

One of the most beautiful campaigns was the soulful floppy eared characters who appeared on vintage music sheets and magazine pages courtesy of Midge, sometimes in stunning collaborations with My Dog Sighs.

Midge v. My Dog Sighs

On the subject of vintage paper, 616’s trespassing in abandoned buildings resulted in the liberation of found letters from a bygone pre-email era, he picked out underlined highlights from the text which formed the basis for multiple distortions of his characteristic tribal cartoon characters.

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616 – “Monarch”

It has been a brilliant year for the highly promising ALO. His street work painted directly on the surface has won heaps of admirers and he is beginning to develop deserved traction in the gallery world.

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The world is certainly a brighter place for the pop art paste ups of D7606. After coming to attention for persuading icons of femininity that piss smelling phone boxes were the place to be seen in 2013, he expanded the repertoire to embrace other forms of technologically challenged communication utilities such as post boxes, valve TVs and “Tardis” police phone boxes.

D7606 – (“yeah, Billy love, just go to the hotel and straight up to his room”)

D7606 proved himself to be an exceptional engine for artistic collaboration, inviting artists such as 616, C3, Gee Street Art and Benjamin Murphy to integrate their characters into his pop soaked retro world but as suckers for interaction between pieces of street art, the perhaps unplanned addition of a letter to the interface between Skeleton Cardboard and D7606’s post box tickled us most.

Skeleton Cardboard's Final Demand to D7606
D7606 v. Skeleton Cardboard

Clet Abraham has been a frequent visitor in recent years though the vast majority of his traffic sign subversions from previous visits to London were “sign man” carrying a heavy beam. On his most recent visit late this year his interference with the authority's visual control signals demonstrated the full range of his witty and imaginative repertoire.

Clet Abraham

It would have been an incomplete year without the collaged brand-jacking of A.CE, he dutifully kept up a barrage of wheatpastes. Something unusual this year from A.CE was his "artist-cam" view of a night time bombing mission which captures the energy and “one man alone versus the city" of an intense illegal run, click A.CE: Inside The mind Of A Street Artist.

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The Horror Crew, Mr Fan in particular, has had a great year with work which challenges categorisation. The observant will see in addition to the gorgeous candy coloured pop imagery that the legs of the beast in the photograph below spell out HC FAN, defiantly blurring the boundary between street art and graffiti. Also, is this cool street art or a permissioned mural? Though we have chanced upon him painting this spot a couple of times in broad daylight without a care in the world, I am inclined to guess that Mr Fan has created these beautiful Koons hat tips without permission from the property owner. That supposition is supported by the absence of any camera crew documenting every squirt of paint and also the absence of any stencilled shouts to any mural organizers.

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Mr Fan HC

Sometimes it’s the small and un-shouty street art that deserves greatest admiration, a piece that is clever, took some effort and doesn’t scream “I’m an artist, buy ME ME ME “. This metalwork bird by artist unknown is stunningly placed, beautifully executed and its installation is ingenious in a way you can only appreciate by finding it on the street, one of my favourites of the year.


Something which seems quite commonplace in New York with their angle iron sign posts but which is rare in London is the metalwork tag. Artist “Three” from Singapore left this beautiful rusty tag on a wooden background of faded abstract spraypaint colours, a stunning and photogenic little piece which lasted quite a while.

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D*Face closed the old Stolenspace location with a spectacular solo show, reviewed here, which was accompanied by an epic mural next to Christchurch Spitalfields, beautifully juxtaposing the sins of the flesh and religious piety.

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In doing so, he provocatively went over a long running graffiti spot and to no one’s surprise, probably least of all D*Face’s, due response was delivered within days.

Graffiti v. Street Art

There is a long list of artists and pieces of work we want to include in this year’s annual review but in recognition of the attention span of our audience…and hello to anyone still reading this far…plus the fact that I may have figured out the technology for the first time, we are going to recognise the great contributions of some (not all) of those artists in a photo slide show.

Coming shortly will be part 2 of Graffoto’s review of the year 2013 in street art with emphasis on the larger and more spectacular work of visiting artists and muralists and anything we feel just should be mentioned even if only for being damn photogenic. Sign up for the Graffoto email or RSS and see ya shortly.