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.

Art Is Trash subverts illegal fly posters
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.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Hit Shot Walls - November 2013

Words: NoLionsInEngland
Photos: HowAboutNo and NoLionsInEngland as stated

You didn't seriously think that cold weather would put Shoreditch Street Art into hibernation did you? Fresh colour and frantic activity sustain the rotating uncurated hang of energetic street art for which this area is reknown and we count ourselves lucky to have been able to capture some of it with our various cameras.

A.CE has been out placing paste up collages images left, right and centre and we can't pass up this opportunity to point out that Shoreditch Street Art Tours has a competition this month to win art by A.CE.

photo: HowAboutNo

Making a mark on Shoreditch surfaces for the first time was Borondo who is something of a star on the Spanish street art scene. Mark making is the appropriate term for Borondo’s craft which involves scratching paint off windows with a thick toothed comb. This was his first time painting UK walls but he hopes to return in the New Year.

photo: HowAboutNo

Guess which graffiti cubist had a new show opening in London during the month! Yup - Hunto, seen here collaborating on a mural with Millo who.... has a show coming up this month, who'd have thought?

photo: HowAboutNo

Parlee - Essex Rockers, daubed a Global Street Art mural hoarding which panel by panel is getting smaller with each passing day it seems as the building being built behind the hoarding approaches completion. Grimsby St will be a considerable duller place with those hoardings gone and it will be interesting to see if the current tolerance of the un-curated street art on the opposite wall survives whatever new businesses and residents move into that new building.

photo: HowAboutNo

Captain Kris enjoying a brief moment up on the same hoardings but round the corner on Brick Lane, this wall caused lots of amusement with the daily dismantling and rebuilding of the hoarding as the workers enjoyed a game of surreal jigsaw puzzle solving with the art on the panels.

photo: HowAboutNo

Stripy tights and stilettos usually means just one artist – INSA, however, we're not sure this poor unfortunate fashion victim seemingly stuck with a bit of Ben Wilson art work on their platform stilettos is by INSA.  TBC.

photo: HowAboutNo

It has been satisfying to see a couple of mural walls getting quite wildly dogged in the past month and CERN has taken this opportunity to pen a note-to-self alongside a nice fat dub.

photo: HowAboutNo

This month sees the long serving NoLions SLR being dry docked for urgent and hideously expensive repairs and we are taking advantage of the someone elses marketing budget to road test a Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone, the phone Lady Nolions describes as way smarter than me. It certainly does justice to this luscious and huge Dan Kitchener tube layup mural.

photo: NoLionsInEngland

STRA cuts a pretty mean stencil and was quick to respond to the rantings of comic motor-mouth Russell Brand on Newsnight last month

photo: NoLionsInEngland

Ben Naz had a very busy month slapping single layer stencil street art all over Shoreditch, including this reverse stencil of young punked up Madge doing a Miley Cyrus tongue job.

photo: NoLionsInEngland

This year Mr Fan HC has painted some awesomeJeff Koons style inflatable animals and it's great to see him get up first with the yuletide references in this reindeer and santa scorching through the night skies piece. Fan has made a very interesting decision to retain Odeith's fox from the previous painting though quite what it does in the compostion beats me.

photo: NoLionsInEngland

Lily Mixe has established her trademark with intricately cut paper sea life paste ups and in case the size of these isn’t apparent from the surrounding stickers and tags, that piece is about 3 foot high and 5 foot wide which represents a mammoth Swoon-esque amount of paper cutting.

photo: NoLionsInEngland

Friday, 29 November 2013

Giles Walker & Candice Tripp: "I'm Never Shopping Here Again"

30th November - 12th December

Black Rat Projects/Gallery 223
137 - 139 Lower Marsh Street

All photos: NoLionsInEngland

Shopping is an evil which I put off until the need is way past the point others might have deemed a shop a necessity, as those who have checked my utilitarian taste in garms can testify.   A trip to a department store populated by Giles Walker and Candice Tripp’s morbid paintings and animatronicsconvinces me at least two other people also see the evil inherent in shopping.

Giles Walker

Inside this department store we reel and recoil from Candice Tripp’s sinister enfant terrible paintings and Giles Walker’s beastly and at times fetishistic mantronics. The staging of this show will remind many of the Lazardes/Old Vic Leake St tunnel shows though this hardly surprising as we are in essentially the same Victorian engineering structure around the Waterloo train tracks.

Giles Walker

Giles Walker

In small nooks, many times higher than wide, suspended shop mannequins gave occasional shrugging-off-mortal-coil spasms, I was reminded of a slightly macabre Sam Taylor-Wood, which is a very good thing.

Giles Walker

Giles Walker

Many there covered their eyes at the gothic horror of the children, terrorising eachother and abusing passersby with twisted senseless barbarities. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

Candice Tripp

Candice Tripp Sally Dolls
Candice Tripp

In a room of child’s possessions, a trio of hemp sacks are suspended from the ceiling and inside the live contents squirm and thrust out against their imprisonment…they look like puppies about to be taken to the river but our suspicion is that the contents are not canine. We sense that we are in a department store where man’s suppressed depraved inclinations have been freed of the normal contraints and decorums. Or Poundland.

Giles Walker

Giles Walker
(to avoid disappolintment - this one is not animated)

This is possibly the darkest show I have seen this year and Walker and Tripp are incredibly well matched in their ability to discomfort us. Gloom, depravity, sleaze and sinister threats are the standard BOGOFS in the Walker Tripp store.   I received an email today with the subject line “Happy Shopping Day”…there are no happy shopping days, “I’m Not Shopping Here Again” is as good as it gets.

Giles Walker

Giles Walker

Giles Walker

Giles Walker