Saturday, 25 January 2020

Jace's Small Faces

Jace is a street artist who puts up charming and idiosyncratic sculptural faces on walls, usually not troubling wall owners with requests for permission. At the turn of the decade, three weeks ago, Jace revealed he had put up 253 faces in an impressive 47 cities in a staggering 21 countries. I can relate to this kind of OCD stats collection.

A new crop of Jace faces surfaced last weekend including a renewal of Jace’s ongoing homage to Stik’s iconic Brick Lane Couple.

New Couple, Jace, Jan 2020
Brick Lane Couple by Stik; Jace couple (at eye level),January 2020

This homage piece has by Graffoto’s reckoning been through 5 different manifestations since it first appeared in 2017.   The first face on this spot was actually just a lonesome bachelor in February 2017, but he did have a wonderful fresh complexion.

Jace Bathelor Small Face, Feb 2017
Bachelor Small Face, Feb 2017

It was joined by its partner in around May 2017

Stik Homage, May 2017
Homage to Stik

By October 2017 the resilient female had endured a few chips but and chosen a new partner.

Jace October 2017
October 2017

This partner was tragically and mysteriously taken, our heroine moved on to another new partner in April 2018, this couple were noticeably closer than her previous relationships and now she preferred brown eyes to blue.

Jace April 2018
April 2018

After a long affair and following the pattern, the gentleman somewhat unchivalrously disappeared leaving the poor lady all alone. Her next partner in July 2019 wasn't exactly what you would call a looker but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Jace, 2019
July 2019

Then, unexpectedly, the couple disappeared, maybe they eloped together. Last weekend a new couple were drawn to this most romantic corner, in fact one would attribute an almost post coital glow to this cheeky pair.

jace, Stik Homage Jan 2020
January 2020

jace, Stik Homage Jan 2020
Looking pretty damn pleased with themselves, January 2020

So why do these disappear? As it doesn’t seem to be the council nor is it likely to be the wall owners removing them, the most likely explanation is going to be souvenir hunters. Sticky fingered street art spotters who think the art would be much better in their private collection rather than enjoyed by its intended public audience. It’s not all bad news with Jace’s faces, a wonderful story appeared on Jace’s Instagram last weekend about the fate of some small faces in Belfast, Northern Ireland… best told by Jace himself:

Part 1: "In December 2016 I discreetly installed one of my very first ever faces to this wonderful courtyard at Duke of York / Dark Horse Belfast - a creative and humorous space celebrating the people and culture of my city and country. Each year I returned to Cathedral Quarter more and more fantastic murals and installations (by artist @ciarangallagherart amongst others) would appear, and I too would leave another surprise gift in the form of a cheeky face. Some of the faces paid homage to the city, like my H&W giants: Samson & Goliath !"

Jace Belfast Part 1
Photo by Jace

"At the very beginning of this year (2020) I made a quick visit back to the courtyard before leaving Belfast, and it appeared to me that all of the faces that had been installed over the years had been removed 😦😞☹️ I felt a tinge of sadness (though this is the nature of urban art) because I love this specific place so much, and was about to leave the courtyard when at a final glance down towards the gates something awesome caught my eye..."

Jace Belfast Part 2
Photo by Jace

Part 2: "all those faces installed from 2016 and dotted about the place have been relocated and displayed collectively. Truly awesome! Seeing this just as I was about to leave Belfast I felt immensely proud and overwhelmingly happy, because I enjoy being in this place a lot. And so, of course I had to put one more new face to the bottom of the column..."

When it comes to his small faces, Jace doesn’t do half measures, all told we found 8 small faces from the most recent Jace Shoreditch adventure and for the record, here are the other six beauties.

Jace, Uberfubs, Dr Cream
Jace, Uberfubs, Dr Cream - Tiles and relief sculptures are in fashion

Theresa May by Jace, January 2020
Theresa May, January 2020

Jace, January 2020
Jace Face in London

Jace, January 2020
January 2020

Jace Purple Haze Jan 2020
Purple Daze

Jace, January 2020
January 2020

The Shoreditch Street Art Tours blog first wrote about Jace’s homage to Stik's couple in October 2017

Then small faces in great places were featured again in December 2017.

Let’s hope the Stik homage faces last even longer this time.

All photos Dave Stuart except Jace where credited.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Winter Lights 2020

Winter Lights

Canary Wharf, London

16th - 25th January 2020

Dark nights and biting cold make classic ingredients for some light art so off to Winter Lights at Canary Wharf, selfie heaven in the form of 26 sculptures.

Affinity, Amigo and Amigo & S1T2

Starting with our favourite, Constellation is part Dr Who theme tune vortex visual and part early 80s wire frame battlezone tank game. The white light projected into water vapour clouds is totally immersive, absorbing and nothing like as wet as it might sound.

Constellation, Studio Joanie Lemercier

Constellation, Studio Joanie Lemercier

Pre visit consultation of the website suggested Absorbed By Light had compelling crowd “interaction” photograph potential but the crowds clustered around the bench means sharp elbows and abandoning your British reserve is essential, time and rumbling stomachs decreed we wouldn’t throw ourselves into that scrum. In a desperate attempt to contrive a street art reference, this installation channeled two great pieces of art by Banksy, the Mobile Lovers in Bristol and the bench with seagulls at Dismaland.

Absorbed By Light
Absorbed By Light, Gali Mai Lucas

Banksy/Polly Morgan, Dismaland, 2015

Mobile Lovers, Banksy 2014. Photo shellshock

The Bra Tree fused the after effect of a Tom Jones gig in the park with a 1970s women's lib rally, it probably looks much the same in daylight, the illuminations operate from 4pm to 10pm, as at night. All the bras are believed to be part of the artist’s original installation, evidence suggesting otherwise gratefully received.   Perhaps a more imaginative name would have inspired some more enlightened thinking about this explosion in a lingerie department.

The Bra Tree
The Bra Tree

Everyone can take fabulous photos at Winter Lights, the Mountain of Light is particularly photogenic.

Mountain of Light
Mountain of Light, Angus Muir Design

Shish-Ka-Buoy looks like display of psychedelic sex toys and once that thought is planted in your mind you just can’t erase it.

Shish-Ka-Buoy, Angus Muir Design

Sasha Trees is one installation that involves quite a bit of a schlep from the main clusters and you’ve probably seen it already so even though it looks great, if time is tight this would be the one to drop.

Sasha Trees
Sasha Trees, Adam Decolight

Sky on Earth is a genius proof of the "there's a queue, better join it quick" herd instinct. The installation has subwoofer bass note throbs accompanying a bubble bath with intermittent light flickers, you can extract the impact, effect and visuals just as effectively from around the perimeter but everyone who didn't have kids under the age of 10 politely queued 10 minutes for the privilege of walking down the channel in the middle.

Sky On Earth
Sky On Earth, UAII Studio

Light festival veterans in London will find a number of the installations quite familiar. I can’t think how many light festivals the Light benches have appeared in and some such as Liquid Sound and Bit.Fall looked identical to last year. Some were just downright underwhelming such as Seeds Of Life located in a shopping mall.

Squiggle,  Angus Muir Design. So 2019.

Pools Of Light was also present last year and still looked like a 6th form disco light show fell into a ball pond. It is amusing to observe the resigned attempts of stewards to prevent people throwing the balls around in the face of what looked like a dozen American Football matches taking place on the same pitch.

Pools Of Light
Pools Of Light

It’s fun, it's photogenic, it runs for a week until next Saturday 25th January and the forecast for this week is fortuitously dry. Arriving at Canary Wharf tube station drops you right into the action so getting there isn’t too problematic, so perhaps well worth considering Winter Lights for a free thing to do in January.

Desire, UXU Studio

Light Mountain
Mountain of Light, Angus Muir Design

Lactolight by Lactolight

Aquatics, Philipp Artus

Ditto, Ithaca Studio

Time and Tide
Time and Tide, Paul and Pute

All photos Dave Stuart except Shellshock where noted

More information Winter Lights: Website

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

2019 Street Art Revisited

Time to reflect on another glorious year of street art. Time to make zero apologies for again revealing a disposition towards the small and the unexpected rather than the humongous blockbusting murals. Time to admit that this was written before all those other end-of-decade posts that have been pouring out of Graffoto over the past month, the idea for those came late and they leap frogged this look back at 2019.

C&S Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse, stencil on stamps, C&S

Every year there are Negative Ninnies naysaying street art. “We lost such and such a wall”; “The culture is rinsed out, watered down and washed up”; “no balls” and yet, every year, something new emerges and artists seen before like C&S above bring fresh art to intrigue, amuse and delight. That’s what we celebrate. C&S (above) had a very neat technique for making it appear that the stamps were lick-sticked one by one to the wall then stencilled over. Equally impressively, on the collection of stamps there are 8 1/2p and 9 1/2p stamps, the UK dropped the 1/2p back in 1984.

How about DaddyStreetFox? Those foxes started to appear in the corner of your eye in 2018 now seems they are everywhere! The “ecclesiastical foxes” look particularly stern.

Pex, Chicadania, Nylon, Schlomo

DaddyStreetFox – got some bins to rip apart

One of my favourite collaborations this year came about slightly by accident rather than design as one partner reacted to the other's opportunism but the result was stunning.

Fanakapan, Jim Vision
Jim Vision & Fanakapan – Gimme 5

At the other end of the scale Uberfubs’s street jewellery featured in so many beautiful collaborations.

Capt Eyeliner & Uberfubs
Uberfubs & Captain Eyeliner

The stunningly beautiful Stop The hate Angel pieces appeared in a range of sizes and with mirror tiles and colourful stickers, all caught the light superbly.

Stop the Hate Angel, Uberfubs, life size

2019 saw a major rotation in the political street art, yet things remain the same. The political agenda for street artists here in London was hogged by Brexit, obviously; the conservative party with Boris pretty much matching Trump in popular loathing; and environmental issues.

Fight Tiny Tribal Minds – Trump, Subdude

Wankers Of the World handed out 6 WOTW awards earlier in the year and pretty much nailed the Boris issue even before the country’s 11 top law lords in the Supreme Court ruled that “The Prime Minister’s advice to her majesty was unlawful, void and no effect” on account of Johnson being a lying shit.

Wanker s Of The World
Brexit Ultra Lies, Wankers Of The World, March 2019

Theresa May disappeared leaving little trace on the political landscape, only scars on walls.

Fight Tiny Tribal Minds – Theresa May Version, Subdude

Unexpectedly David Cameron made a return on Shoreditch walls thanks to K-Guy hijacking the autobiography graphics to frustrate the pig lover’s attempt to wash clean his legacy.

David Cameron Is A Twat, K-Guy

In case there wasn’t enough real world politics to contend with, Shoreditch street art contrived to produce its own political tea cup perturbation on the issue of who gives respect to whom and who goes over whom. With a tin of black paint and one night’s work in August, Qwert and Neon Savage put themselves at odds with LDashD.

LDashD buffed
Buff v. LDashD, 23 August 2019

LdashD of course has quite sufficient chutzpah to keep the drama running and proved a reasonable hand at pasting over the paint buff.

LDashD v.Qwert/Neon Savage buff
LDashD 26 August 2019

The protagonists tore at, pasted over, painted over and subverted eachother’s work and it continues.

Qwert, Neon Savage v Qwert
October 21st LDashD torn (paint splats are relics of a piece of Qwert)

DLDashD v Qwert, Neon Savage
November 3rd

Should LDashD, the master of the forced collaboration, show more respect to other artists or have Neon Savage and Qwert assumed a role of censorship and curation running counter to the ethos of wild, un-curated street art? Both arguments have some merit and the long running spat highlights one of the many internal conflicts and inconsistencies in street art’s unenforceable inconsistent unwritten rules.

“Just Stop It Now”, artist unknown v. LDashD

Qwert put up a lot of great paste ups this year, many of which LDashD nobly refrained from augmenting. The cartoonish earnestness of this character showing off his growth in social media likes was pointed (literally) and amusing:

Qwert (detail)
Qwert (detail)


A fascinating intersection between street art art river bed scavenging or “mud larking” to use the popular local vernacular emerged during the year, led initially by Jonesy with carved bricks from the Victorian era found in the Thames foreshore.

“Methane”, household Bricks, Seven Star Car Park 2019, also feat a 2103 casting, all Jonesy

More recently a proper mudlarker going by the moniker Old Father Thames created collages of river treasure mounted on varnished wood, doubtless also Thames flotsam.

Old Father Thames
Eat, Sleep, Lark, Repeat, Old Father Thames

Inventiveness is priceless in street art, prized way above polished and pristine large scale street art. This year, Lost Hills brought the novel to Shoreditch street art with a clever hack of those garden night light things which he used as eyes in a trio of lurid fluffy monsters.

Lost Hills
Lost Hills

Throughout the year we saw many forms of interaction with art on the wall, some witty, come crude, some hostile but none with the artistic brilliance of My Dog Sighs’ stunning “Trompe l’Oeil” water droplets.

My Dog Sighs
My Dog Sighs. Also feat Uberfubs, Apparan

Murmure visited from France and also used a Trompe L'oeil approach with pasted characters cleverly positioned to look like they were the culprits behind the marks on the wall, though one was also cleverly simulating the buff.


Shepard Fairey hit London hard this year with beautiful stickers, pasteups and some top murals on the occasion of his 30th anniversary exhibition “Facing The Giant”.

tn_IMG_0496 copy
7’4” 520 lbs

Shephard Fairey Obey
Obey “STAY UP” (still up at time of writing)

Shephard Fairey Raise The Level
“Raising The Level”, Shepard Fairey

2019 has been a huge year for climate awareness and environmental art. One of the most impressive was Mammon’s creation of the Extinction Symbol using 1p and 5p pieces, intrinsic value not known.

Extinction Symbol, Mammon,

Said Dokins from Mexico returned to London with a trio of murals reflecting on the environmental harm man himself creates through his presence on the planet.

Said Dokins
Poisoned Seed, Said Dokins

Bam Bam painted the next one in response to the shameful state supported torching of the Amazon Jungle. The next day, the newspapers quoted a US official as saying “"we don't think environmental protection needs to necessarily cost economic growth or energy security or dominance". Can these people look at what is happening in Australia and continue to deny that climate change is real?

Bam Bam Billa
Bam Bam Billa - Protect The Amazon

This Autumn Lady NoLions proposed the grandeur of Venice might be a nice thing to do as a street art free break, and indeed it was street art free apart from the exception mentioned briefly on this blog post. The highlight was finding Banksy in Venice.

Banksy Venice
Distressed Refugee Child, Venice, Banksy 2019

Dr Cream has spent the decade using his street art as the raw material for animations. 2019 saw the debut of two new animation pieces including the Drillbot right at the year end.

Dr Cream Drillbot
Drillbot, Dr Cream

We also love Dr Cream’s Owl Lift which predicts the weather on Commercial St

Dr Cream
Owl Lift – rain imminent; Dr Cream

Dr Cream Owl Lift
Owl Lift – raining; Dr Cream

Sell Out’s work leant more towards the oil pastel characters rather than the trash sculptures this year though he did change his name (butterflyman) and paid tribute to the two heroes of England’s single stunning victory over Australia in the Ashes series

Ben Stokes tribute - Sell Out
Ben Stokes 135 Not Out v Australia, Headingly 25 Aug 2019, Trash Sculpture Tribute Butterflyman

Sel Out with My Dog Sighs, tribute te Jack Leach
Jack Leach (Eng) 1 Not Out (most important 1 NO in history), Wax Crayon tribute Butterflyman (augmenting My Dog Sighs eyeball)

Graffoto’s enjoyment of street art is sometimes biased towards photogenic creations but hopefully no one has noticed. One of the most delightful photos this year was provided by this gorgeous floral composition from This1 in Seven Stars Car Park.

This One
This1, also feat ALO

Pez was in London in 2019 to celebrate 20 years of constant smiling and one of our favourite collaborations was this mural put together with Chicadania, Nylon and Schlomo.

Pex, Chicadania, Nylon, Slomo
Pex, Chicadania, Nylon, Slomo

Graffiti continued its rise and rise in Shoreditch with the Brick Lane railway bridge becoming an established piece spot having previously always been fastidiously buffed by the owner.

Real graffiti by (blush) REAL et al

Shoreditch boasts a lot of safe Hall Of Fame graffiti but one person who did endeavour to get up higher and less legal than everyone else was Artik, often in the company of Man or Atomic. Getting up with rollers is something that can be routine but doing it with the skill, style and reach of Artik is always impressive.

Man, Artik, 1T
Man, Artik ltb. Also 1T

Man, Artik LTB
Man. Artik. Also feat Spat, Time, Jet wrh et al

Also at the wilder edge is Gorilas with his fist shaped throw which appeared everywhere. The quantity that impressed, and on a recent visit it was a pleasure to find a load more on the streets of Bristol.

UEYA Gorilas
UEYA Gorilas, Bristol

Also in Bristol, Greta Thunburg by Jody. Jody had a lot of impressive art up on Bristol walls butthis one was jaw droppingly world class.

Greta Thunburg by Jody, Bristol
Greta Thunburg, Jody, Bristol

Just to finish off, a selection of photos that just would have been pretty shit if not for the accident of the art and the moment combining to put them among my favourite shots of 2019.

Trexus, 2Rise
2Rise Trexus collab


"Look Mummy, it's Spore"

ThePostmans Art
Mary Anne Hobbs by The Postman's Art

Sell Out
Boris Johnson by Butterflyman

Reves, Nerone
Reves, Nerone

My Dog Sighs
My Dog Sighs

Shok 1

Keith Haring by ThePostmans Art
Keith Haring, The Postman's Art

Tony Busk Bleach Zadok Oust Night copy 4
Ed Hicks Tony Busk Bleach Zadok Oust
(view LARGE)

The Nomadic Community Gardens sadly ended its Allen Gardens trackside existence after giving much joy with art, music, food and chill. The main wall hosted a lot of great festival art but photographing the last one was a nightmare as the garden closed to the public before they had moved the lifts from in front of the mural. Thankfully Hayley at Roving Café and ThisOne helped me get in there for a few proper shots right at the end.

tn__DSC8483 copy
Trafik, Lifer, Tizer, Jim Vision, Balstroem, Vile, Cazer, Planet Rick, TwoRise

Dan Kitchener’s geisha girl looked stunning at night on Brick Lane, Dan has been incorporating the visual tag aesthetic into his art and naturally more tags accrete onto his street pieces. He posted this photo to his Instagram and has this lovely response to someone who condemned people augmenting his art with further tags: “it is the reality and nature of street art and so best to be accepted and embraced - I actually enjoy this process with this piece as it becomes part of it “. True words spot on!

Dan Kitchener
Dan Kitchener & additional tags, Brick Lane

Finally to conclude with my favourite shot last year. Started on a roof with a blank canvas, ended up with some colourful collaborative art and a bunch of poseurs. Fun year, fun times.

Sweet Toof, Knapple, Rowdy
Knapple, Rowdy, Sweet Toof poised

Sweet Toof, Knapple, Rowdy
Knapple, Rowdy, Sweet Toof posed

All photos: Dave Stuart