Friday, 5 March 2021
Wednesday, 24 February 2021
10 years ago the Institute Of Contemporary Arts was besieged by connoisseurs of graffiti photography when a small group of dedicated amateur graffiti photographers (there was no other type) curated by Delete and comprising himself, Buddz, Lee 102, Howaboutno, Joeppo and myself (under the pseudonym Nolionsinengland) created an exhibition of graffiti photography. It wasn’t really credible to review the exhibition at the time but 10 years on, possibly less encumbered by modesty, it is nice to look back on fond memories and to reminisce with the London Walls photo gang.
“Credibility thieves, vicarious thrill seekers, they [6 photographers] follow the graffiti into grime darkened urban corners and locations of un-certain legality; aged limbs but ready cameras scratch deep below the surface of a culture created by a disparate community of egotistical but talented dare-devils, London’s graffiti writers.” (London Walls Zine, 2011)
The first photo cull session was held in the Masque on Old Street, each of us had turned up incredible photos of graffiti by TYPE (Rest In Paint) and after a shitload of horsetrading, the trio that made the cut are fitting reminders of TYPE’s powerful lettering.
“London walls was an amazing opportunity to exhibit some work, and put faces to many names” – Lee 102
Exhibitions of graff photography just about never happened so the opening night was rammed, the queue went down the Mall around the block, thanks perhaps to the uncompromising venue security for whom this lairy crowd wasn’t the usual ICA opening night set. At one point Robbo yelled through the door “FAAACKIN sort it out Dave”, I pointed out to him that my wife was in the queue a way behind him and I couldn’t get her in either, “You’re in the shit mate” he astutely observed.
“The security wouldn't let #TeamRobbo in as it
was a full-house at the
ICA, I had to go around asking a few people to leave politely... Haha,
not sure that type of exhibition has been bettered since.” – Joeppo
With the space heaving, a wonderful mingling of cultures took place. Graff writers from all over town and from all crews mingled, bragged and applauded eachother. Robbo met Stik and this seemingly unlikely of pairings hit it off immensely.
“It felt like everyone in the London graff scene was there. A real pleasure to chat with Fenza and Shye, two of my favourite London writers. And Robbo, of course! – Delete, 2021
The positive reception show received from the graff community came as a surprise. Graffiti writers take wonderful photographs which are now widely seen thanks to Instagram but in those days it was more limited to an audience of fans on Flickr or the few websites such as Hurt You Bad that followed the scene. Their photos tend to convey the mastery of the can and the energy of the moment whereas the collection in this show took a broader, artier and more contextual view of the culture.
“This was the first graffiti related “thing” to happen at the ICA, which is an amazing location. It felt like actually being an artist for the night.” – HowAboutNo
When you combine a large graff audience with free beer tagging of surfaces is inevitable, management were loudly un-impressed with the post party state of the premises.
The opening of the show was accompanied by the launch of a zine “London Walls”, a compendium of more of the group’s photography which for those who were there is now probably the only tangible relic of that event.
“the ICA said it was the busiest opening night that anyone could ever remember, after about 8pm they had to do a one-in-one-out and the queue stretched right up The Mall.” - Delete
You probably thought quite a while back "It would be much more interesting to see the photographs than read this babble". Unfortunately there is no facility for showing slideshows on this blog without developing Russian hacker proficiency in html coding. For a full slide show pop over HERE to what is basically the same blog post but with a slideshow
“All the writers were chuffed about it and thanked us for doing it, which was a relief because there was a bit of a worry that they would think we were using their work for our own glorification” – DeleteLinks: Delete Flickr Joeppo LDNGraffiti Lee 102 Instagram HowAboutNo instagram Buddz instagram Dave Stuart instagram
Tuesday, 5 January 2021
One of the biggest feuds in art-world history, street artist Banksy v graffiti writer Robbo rumbled on much longer than fans and art historians previously thought.
“………. before the King Robbo? No, he’s dogged me before that has happened, I can show you a picture, it’s in one of his books.“
“And after that happened, there was a full name throw-up of mine, “Robbo” and he decided to put the grim reaper or the smiley face over the top of it and at the time, I thought if that’s the best he can do ... “
Tuesday, 24 November 2020
Shoreditch is full of little corners where street art survives and accumulates in layers, like a busy kitchen pinboard. Last week one such canvas near Columbia road was transformed by, in no particular order, Donk, Skeleton Cardboard, Rider and Tommy Fiendish into this beautiful paste up collage.
Donk, Rider, Tommy Fiendish, Skeleton Cardboard
Skeleton Cardboard 2020
Whether neglect or tolerance is the reason why the property owner has allowed street art to accumulate, mutate and flourish on this canvas is a matter for another day but it is interesting to look at just a few examples of how the patina of this door’s surface has evolved down the years.
A year ago in November 2019 the door looked like this:
Just a week ago a fair portion of the art present in 2019 was showing a steely determination to cling on in spite of tempest and subsequent creatives.Nov 2020: Feat DaddyStreetFox vs Anne-laure Maison, Donk, Subdude, Fosh, Citty Kitty, Shuby, Noriaki, Silvio Alino, Bento Ghoul, Voxx Romana, Pyramid Oracle, D7606.
The Pyramid Oracle paste up still visible in parts in 2019 and 2020 has already lasted since 2015, thanks mainly to its height.
2015: Pyramid Oracle, also feat Sweet Toof, Donk, Voxx Romana, Noriaki, Anna Laurini, Ema, D7606
HIN was busy around Shoreditch 2012 - 2014 and if you looked at the bottom of the door in 2013 you would see a HIN character with an Aida face created from her infamous "East End Still Sucks" response to the Hackney Olympics. That originally started out as a "go vegan" collaboration as shown in the following shot and the HIN body was still visible last week!
2013: Sweet Toof, Aida, Kid Acne, Ema, Donk, Angry Face, HIN
Finally, back in 2012 this canvas was one of many to host the Sweet Toof/Paul Insect street group show. This photo also features a framed print by New York street artist Gaia in a walk on part!
As always the beauty of the art process here is the absence of the selective and restrictive eye of a curator, an organiser.
Finally, if you have enjoyed this look back through a street art time machine why not put an end to that lockdown stir crazy feeling by joining the author on a tour of Shoreditch’s street art, click here
All photos: Dave Stuart
Tuesday, 3 November 2020
BSMT Space, Dalston
15 October - 1 November 2020
In an urban landscape where portrait street painters are overwhelmingly drawn to either the technical proficiency of photorealism or its diametric opposite cartoonery, ALO’s expressionist fisogs stand out!
His street art career started with small paste ups in 2011 and bar a brief flirtation with Paris ALO has lived in London and consistently decorated our streets ever since.
ALO paints on the streets in acrylics and markers rather than spraypaint, making his approach rather different to most street artists. Of necessity he has to make repeated returns to a spot to apply successive different coloured layers which when a street artist is painting without permission, most of the time for ALO, requires nerves of steel and a detached immersion in the act.
ALO: Untitled, permission piece, Dalston 2020
In his latest solo show characters are dressed in patchwork garments with way more colour than previous exhibitions. Paintings influenced by African and Moroccan women stand out. Also, Klimt has clearly been a significant influence on the latest work.
ALO: Brick Lane 2020
ALO: Profile Of An African Woman In Paris
ALO’s characters don’t all engage us with a stare, but they say the eyes are the window into the soul and the direct stares of many of the faces are a thing of beauty.
A night time city landscape is the first completely non-figurative piece I recall seeing from ALO. In the lower half of the painting London glitters with lit windows in buildings recalling the colour quilting of his African ladies in the lower half of the painting, overhead a starry night sky sprinkles headache inducing noisy starlight on the city.
ALO: East End
An ALO character conveys all you need to know through the accessories and the detail. A hair band, a hat, the drip of a tear or more directly, a descriptive word block provide clues as to a subject’s style, location or state of mind. There is less embedded text in the paintings in this exhibition but the characters are no less evocative.
ALO: Tip Oil Suonatore Jones
Delving into an ALO painting to ferret out what is happening is fun. With bombs dropping from the sky and the title “Drone”, one painting had me momentarily thinking the character was using some kind of hand controller to deal death remotely; stepping back for further contemplation it became apparent that the character was a mother cradling her baby.
Unfortunately this gallery visit was delayed until just a couple of days before the show closed but hopefully you get a sense here of the awesome ALO show the champions of the urban art world BSMT Gallery have staged.
Grace - show book, foreground
ALO: The Piper
BSMT Space website
ALO 2015 Show Hail To The Loser
All photos: Dave Stuart
Saturday, 26 September 2020
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.
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|
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 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.
|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”.
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.
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|
|Jimmy C, Alo, Cartrain, T.wat, Cityzen Kane 2013|
|Pure Evil, 2012|
|Cabinet Of Curiosities, Shoreditch Design Triangle 2020 (same facade as Pure Evil above)|