Author Archives: Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Cardiff Street Art and Graffiti

Any excuse to blow the London vapours from the lungs will do so my travels recently took me West to explore Cardiff street art and graffiti thanks to a cheap rail ticket promotion.  Cardiff is the capital of Wales and, as a specimen of street art informs me, the 6th most “at risk” city in the world from rising water levels.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Cardiff At Risk – artist unknown

I have previous with Cardiff, having been born there, schooled there and fled from there.  It was a shithole until I left, now look at it!   In the mid 00s when I joined Flickr with its global community of artists, writers and photographers I realised early on that Cardiff has some seriously good spraycan artists, so an art visit was well overdue.  This is not a guide to Cardiff’s street art and graffiti scene, I am certain there is more and there are different artists and other locations.  Think of it as me sharing a snapshot of some of the stuff I happened to find and enjoy on one particular day.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

My Dog Sighs & others

I headed into the area south of the train station, dark streets where we used to drink and play pool in the old Bristol Hotel, drawn in that direction not by an awareness of any art locations, just simple curiosity at a new exit from the train station which I don’t think existed when I was a kid.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

N3KOcardiff trans rights stickers

South of the station there was barely a single building I recognised but one thing they never change are the railway bridges so it was nice to find to rough and raw pieces on those familiar surfaces.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Past Jams

Rmer1, as in “Armour”, stood out in my online remote appreciation of Cardiff’s street art scene, my 150% certainty was that if I did find any Rmer artwork it would be one of his photorealistic portrait pieces.  I was dead pleased when one of the first tags I found was Rmer1.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Hoxe1 Rmer1 Cardiff

That tag was found on Womanby Street, a drag that screams “diehard 18 year old drinkers from the valleys” and most of the art seemed bar related.  There was some good stuff and when you have talent like Dr Zadok combining with Karm and Rmer the result such as this portrait of 2015 Welsh Music Prize 2015 winner Gwenno Saunders is inevitably impressive.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Zadok Karm Rmer

After a delicious humus and felafal sourdough in the indoor market a hired bike took me west the short distance to Sevenoaks Park in Grangetown where I found this enormous RIP tribute to deceased graffiti writer NERVE.  The fragmented blockbuster letter outlines served as a frame within which writers paid their respects in a coordinated colour scheme.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Nerve RIP wall Grangetow

I couldn’t believe my luck in coming across this crisp, clean, colour coordinated graff seemingly painted quite recently given its pristine freshness.  It was quite a surprise when a bit of research revealed it dates back to June 2021, there is absolutely zero chance, almost, of anything lasting that long unscathed up here in London.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Nerve RIP wall detail

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Nerve RIP wall

One writer who’s style caught my eye in that Nerve tribute and a couple of other spots was Elvs.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

ELVS Grangetown Cardiff

TIP: When exploring art in a new town, never take the same road twice.  A different route back to the centre led to the chance find of a long extent of graffed up hoardings on the embankment of the River Taff leading to an entrance to the Rugby stadium.  Rugby fans have to have something to piss against I suppose.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Millenium Stadium Taff Embankment Cardiff

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Newer, Cardiff

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

AMOK Cardiff

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Cesto Cardiff

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Sepr Cardiff

Apart from strange spiky posts covered in furious tags, the pieces on the boards were virtually unblemished with little to no dogging or lining out.  Close inspection of one piece did show evidence of some local beef, lining out had been repaired and the same taking out style deployed against the same writer was observed in several spots across the city.

A longer ride took me through Cardiff’s impressive civic centre towards the Roath area where spectacular murals and cobbled alleyway pieces can be found.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Lowther Keys Dan Green Cardiff

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Helen Bur, Colour Doomed collab Cardiff 2014

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

City Road ish, Cardiff

Familiar artists abound though the art piece that excited me most was a My Dog Sighs painting in support of Ukraine in which the photorealistic eyeball reflection expresses the explosive horror or a Russian missile attack.  My Dog Sigh’s painting went viral on social media in the early weeks of the current conflict.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

My Dog Sighs Ukraine

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

My Dog Sighs

With spring light holding up well a random loop up the side of Roath Park then back west hemmed in by the Western Avenue revealed individual isolated art works are to be found by the vigilant eye.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Alex Pawson

This mural by SPK dating from 2015, survives on a wall which has all the hallmarks of a building extension jerry built on top of an existing garden wall, Boris was a pariah among the righteous even before becoming PM (but you knew that).  It’s the legs of the badger down the badger sett painted where once would have been a garden gate is a use of wall topography that amuses and impresses.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Boris Johnson fox hunt supporter – SPK

It’s the legs of the badger down the badger sett painted where once would have been a garden gate is a use of wall topography that amuses and impresses.

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Boris Johnson fox hunt supporter – SPK

They say one of the first signs of gentrification is street art moving in; I remember this cut-through to the train station opening some 35 or so years ago, seems Cardiff’s street art lags the gentrification :-))

Cardiff street art and graffiti visited by Shoreditch Street Art Tours

Helen Bur / Wasp Elder Collab

This trip to Cardiff was part art, part graffiti and part nostalgia.   Despite no prior research into locations a random exploration of Cardiff yielded a satisfying quantity of art and for that randomness was actually all the more interesting.  We shall return.

 

All photos Dave Stuart


Street art print stop frame animation of a female swinging a large bat by Dr Cream in Shoreditch

Street Art Animations From Dr Cream

NFTs are the current buzzword in the art world and street artists are getting quite excited about their potential for street art.  Street art overlapping the digital realm is nothing new and one of it longest standing exponents is the self-styled guerrilla animator Dr Cream who has been producing street art animations for the past decade.

London, Shoreditch, Street art, tours, Dr Cream, springbot, Spring, linoprint, linocut, animation, stopframe, timelapse, Shoreditch street art tours, paste ups,

Springbot by Dr Cream feat also the Rolling Fool, Cat Rider and Shark Army, 2017

In the famous Star Yard off Brick Lane there is at the moment a lovely collection of paste ups from Dr Cream comprising the full set of frames required to replicate one of his famous street art animations.  You can do this yourself, take a few quick snaps and hey presto with a bit of photoshop   create your own replica of one of Dr Cream’s animations.   Other animation makers may be available.   The Star Yard collection yielded this version of Daisy Riot’s strike.

street art stop frame animation of a female swinging a large bat by Dr Cream in Shoreditch

Daisy Riot Guitar Swat

For years we had failed to locate every necessary frame to make a seamless replica of one of his animation, this changed at the London International Paste Up festival last year when Dr Cream obligingly put all the frames for another Daisy animation.

Paste-ups by street artist Dr Cream used to create a stop Frame animation

Daisy Riot animation frames by Dr Cream

You may wonder why bother with this complex process fusing the real and the virtual when you could just make a wholly digital animation.  There are several great reasons for doing it this way: the fun, the audience but most of all it is the beauty of introducing random chance abstract colours and textures from the street into the animation.

Street art print stop frame animation of a female swinging a large bat by Dr Cream in Shoreditch

Daisy Riot back lift axe

As for NFTs, hey are coming to street art and there will benefits and there will be negatives, maybe we’ll go into that another time.

Check out the long history of Dr Cream’s street art animations HERE

Photos and animations: Dave Stuart


Extraordinary Portrait Painter Dale Grimshaw’s Street Art

Street artist Dale Grimshaw featured in a brilliant BBC programme on TV last night so here is a  profile of Dale’s street art pedigree and a huge recommendation that you to catch up with Dale’s moment of TV glory.

street artist Dale Grimshawpaints colourful eyes in a Free West Papua mural in Shoreditch

Dale Grimshaw work in progress 2019

In the early years, from about 2009 Dale Grimshaw put paste up street art featuring elaborate dynamic portraits.  Motion was a key characteristic, bodies plummeted from the skies, subjects  kicked out at us, heads twisted with dizzying speed.

Street art woodcut print of man spread-eagled in free fall

The Fool, 2009

paste ups by street artist Dale Grimshaw in Shoreditch showing self portrait and raven

Self portrait and raven, 2009

Woodcut print street art of man in short giving a flying kick by Dale Grimshaw

“Falling Kicking” ,woodcut paste up, 2010

Dale’s involvement in the scene extended to running the Signal Gallery in Shoreditch with his partner.  They staged exciting shows by street art luminaries such as Jef Aerosol and C215 and urban art stars including Matt Small and Jaybo, all of whom are predominantly portraiture specialists. Of course there were also several great Grimshaw shows.

C215 art on display at Shoeshiners exhibition, Signal gallery, 2009

C215 Shoeshiners exhibition, Signal Gallery, 2009

Although Dale did paint murals on permission walls right from the off, his distinctive aboriginal portraits emerged in spraypainted mural form about 10 years ago.

multimedia street art painting of man with a snarling dog on a lead by Dale Grimshaw

Who’s taking who for a ride, mixed media, 2009

vibrant colourful street art mural of a tribesman by Dale Grimshaw

2 Worlds, 2013

street art painting of man and eagle by Dale Grimshaw

Man and Eagle, Walthamstow, 2015

vibrant colourful street art mural of a tribesman by Dale Grimshaw

Hanbury St, 2017

Portrait paintings have been an indulgence for rulers, kings, religious icons and rich art patrons with the moolah to immortalise their image through portrait commissions.  Extraordinary Portraits, presented on the BBC by British rapper Tinie Tempah redresses the balance by pairing unsung heroes with artists for a portrait sitting to honour real people and real lives.  For this edition Tinie matches up Dale Grimshaw with Patrick Hutchinson who made the front pages world wide  in 2020 for his selfless rescue of an isolated white BLM “counter protestor” under attack.

White man rescued by Partick Hutchinson at BLM protest, London, photo credit: Dylan Martinez 2020

White man rescued by Partick Hutchinson at BLM protest, London, photo credit: Dylan Martinez 2020

After Dale and Patrick’s initial meeting the programme pursues Dale’s commitment to reveal something deeper than the superficially obvious, they meet Patrick’s family, visit his place of work and then of course there is the grand reveal.   Fascinating sequences unveil Dale’s photography session, his varied and very detailed painting process and his studio environment.   It’s not just about Dale of course, Patrick is an equally heart-warming character and it is quickly apparent that his credentials as a role model for humanity and harmony go way deeper than that one photographed incident.

Dale Grimshaw and Tinie Tempah, Extraordinary Portraits, ; photo: Peter Coventry

What has Dale painted?  Will the family like it?  Track down Extraordinary Portraits Series 1 Episode 3 (link HERE), available on BBC iPlayer until April 2023.  Shoreditch Street Art Tours is a no spoiler zone.

Links:

Dale Grimshaw: instagram

Patrick Hutchinson: instagram

Photos: Dave Stuart except where noted


Solidarity With Ukraine message on colours of Ukraine flag painted on building site hoarding in Shoreditch

Street Art Solidarity With Ukraine

Three days ago Russia invaded Ukraine.  Street artists in Shoreditch have united with the rest of the world in putting out street art with messages of solidarity with Ukraine and revulsion at war breaking out on the European continent.

This afternoon (Sunday 27th February, 2022) these pro Ukraine messages were seen in Shoreditch, shown dovetailed with photographs from protests outside Downing Street in Whitehall, London yesterday.

Street Art in Ukranian flag colours says Peace and Love in Shoreditch London

Peace and Love, our thoughts are with Ukraine

Huge crowd at Whitehall London protesting against Russian invasion of ukraine

Shelter the sky over Ukraine/Block Putin war

Street Art shows Putin on cross bones with message saying Danger To Life

Putin Danger To Life, by Pegasus

Huge crowd in Whitehall, London protesting against Russian invasion of ukraine with Ukrainian flag flying over Downing Street, London

Ukrainian flag flying over Downing Street, London

Street art supports Ukraine and condemns Putin

Solidarity with Ukraine and Putin poison warning

Huge crowd in Whitehall, London protesting against Russian invasion of ukraine

Street artists not known except Pegasus where stated

Street art photos by Dave Stuart

Whitehall photos by anonymous contributor with thanks


Street Artist Enigma In Shoreditch

Just suppose someone decided the missing ingredient in street art was monochromatic medieval woodcut images of public hangings or fantasy horror representations of bizarre sea creatures attacking intrepid seafarers venturing beyond the realm of worldly knowledge.   Japanese street artist Enigma has stepped up to fix this obvious void in Shoreditch’s globally acclaimed street art scene.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma sailing ship and sea serpent

Sea Serpent

Street art has developed to a level of variety and sophistication that it takes something quite special to stand out.  As observed in our look back at Shoreditch street art 2021 favourites, the street art of this new (to us) artist Enigma was a highlight of a rather unusual year It won’t escape your attention that the leviathan serpent traumatising that unstable looking ship above spells out ENGM, a contraction of Enigma’s moniker in a style barely removed from graffiti.  The sea serpent was our first stop-you-in-your-tracks encounter with Enigma’s art last year.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma based on Altas with an origami paper plane

Ready To Fly

A sepia appearance coupled with extensive use of cross hatching lends Enigma’s art an unfashionable antiquated appearance.  Street art is awash with pretty but very average photorealistic portraiture, there is a huge gap for new artists prepared to buck the trend, to not follow fashion.  Enigma’s vision of Lucifer cast out of heaven, based on a detail of Cabanel’s Fallen Angel has butterflies where others paint wavy locks of hair.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma showing a detail copy of Fallen Angel by Alexandre Cabanel

Fallen Angel

Elsewhere faces are sliced to reveal what a proper clockwork orange looks like.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma with a sliced face showing an oragne and clock face so clockwork orange

The Clockwork Orange

Surrealism and distortions suggest an artist enjoying playful imagery and experimentation. How many eyes can you or indeed should you fit on a bowler hatted whale or on a chequered finish flag winged stag beetle?

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma of a surreal whale with a bowler hat and lots of human eyes

Whale Watching

surreal Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma of a stag beetlewith a human eye in its body ad wings with chequered flag design

Love Is A Verb

Fish currently feature frequently in Enigma’s compositions, though the circumstances are typically bizarre.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma of Santa with a huge fish in his present sack

Santa

Enigma’s representations of body parts might resemble pages torn from vintage anatomical studies though a recent fish emerging from an ear could owe more to Hieronymus Bosch.

Surreal Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma showing a fish peeped out of an ear

Pink Fish

Another theme in Enigma’s recent art has been shadow hands creatures.  Those “how to” guides to shadow puppetry never convince you that the contortion of the hands could cast the demonstrated shadow, Enigma teases you into the same shadow guessing game.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma shadow puppets

Shadow Puppet Series

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma showing a shadow puppet stag

Shadow Puppets

A conceptually paired couple of paintings play with the notion of a shadow rabbit created by hands then the actual creature casting a shadow of a hand.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma shadow hand making a rabbit with a passer by

Don’t Follow The Black Rabbit

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma of a rabbit and a shadow rabbit looking like a hand

Follow The Rabbit

Jeopardy crops up frequently in the paintings and this ship in its shattered bottle certainly faces stormy seas and rocky Shoreditch shores.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma of a ship in a broken bottle

Bon Voyage, 2022

Enigma even infiltrates occultist references onto Brick Lane walls, the grinning jester in his harlequin clothing is based on the Hanged Man in the tarot card system and represents submissive states such as surrender or sacrifice.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma showing The Hanged Man tarot card with upside down jester

Hanging Jester, 2022

Enigma garners respect and praise from fellow street artists and when you watch Enigma’s painting style close up you can see why.    His can control would be admired by many graffiti writers, those fractured cross hatching strokes come from practice and skill not accident or chance.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma detail of a mounted butterfly and a fractured Greek head statue

2nd Century Greek bust detail

Enigma has thus far had few gallery outings in London, what has been seen indicates his street art translates beautifully onto rough canvas, as spotted at the Secret Life Gallery in Shoreditch last year.   Instinctively it feels like there is more and better non street art to come from Enigma.

Painting of a rabbit and its shadow by Japanese street artist Enigma

Follow The Rabbit Canvas

Painting of a whale with human eyes and a bowler hat by Japanese street artist Enigma

Whale Watching Canvas

painting of a stag beetle by Japanese street artist Enigma

Love Is A Verb Canvas

There is a lot of fun to be had with a little light painting, a long exposure at night and Enigma’s high contrast imagery.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma showing a shadow puppet stag at night glowing at the edges because of light painting

Stag hands

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma

Hanging Jester at night

Enigma has proved to be very engaging with the public.

Shoreditch street artist Enigma fromm Japan talks to Shoreditch Street Art Tours guests

Hello

We just don’t see enough thematic street art paintings, if you want an idea of the kind of level Enigma is operating at it Ed Hicks might be a suitable peer, a comparison that neither insults Ed nor flatters Enigma.   The sources Enigma mines for his art, fractured ancient Greek busts, tarot cards, cast out demons and psychopathic Kubrick films do a bit more than merely hint at dark undercurrents within his art.   There is an intellectual depth and creative variety to Enigma’s painting and in the high turnover here-today-forgotten-tomorrow world of street art it is testament to Enigma that his paintings are memorable.  Let’s hope Shoreditch continues to play host to his street art for a long time to come.

Shoreditch street art by Japanese artist Enigma mackerel fish

Mackerel

All photos: Dave Stuart

Canvas art photos courtesy Enigma

Photo captions from Enigma’s Instagram


Vibrant Long exposure night photography of street art by Stinkfish in Brick Lane with light trails and light painting

Night Street Art Photography

The days are getting longer, hurrah!  Another way of looking at it is that the nights are sadly getting shorter.  We are now over halfway through the Shoreditch night street art photography season and it has been a cracker.  The season ends pretty much when the clocks go forward in Spring so there is not much time left to join the fun.

Long exposure night photography of street art by Enigma in Shoreditch with light painting

Enigma with light painting and ghosts

On the Night Street Art Photography tour let me help you take stunning night photos of street art such as these.

Long exposure night photography of street art by Mr Cenz in Spitalfields with light trails and light painting

Mr Cenz with light trails and light painting

If you have never done long exposure night photography before you will be find yourself quickly immersed in gorgeous light trails, ghosts, night moods and light painting.

Long exposure night photography of street art by This One in Shoreditch with light trails and light painting

This One with light trails

If you have mastered the basics of manual photography and have say for example an ND filter then you can get into really arty night photography with an amazingly photogenic subject matter.

Long exposure night photography of street art by Alessandro Ioviero in Brick Lane with light painting

Alessandro Ioviero with light painting (Filters not necessary!)

You will find that the skills you acquire will be useful for many other urban night time urban photo opportunities.

Long exposure night photography of Spitalfields Market on a dark moody night with car light trails

Moody night in Spitalfields

You may even be able to create stunning gif animations such as this (Photoshop or a gif animator required).

Night Street Art Photography tours are arranged for individuals or small groups no more than 3, please contact me by email with your enquiry or you can learn more from our website.  We know where to take you and how to photograph it!

Long exposure night photography of graffiti by Real in London with train light trails and light painting

Real with light trails

All photos in this post were taken this Winter by Dave Stuart.

Links:

Stinkfish (feature photo) website

Enigma instagram

Mr Cenz website

This One instagram 

Alessandro Ioviero website

Wrdsmth website

 

 

 

 


Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

Best Of Shoreditch Street Art Tours Kiss Of Death

Should this Shoreditch Street Art Tours post start with an apology to the spraycan virtuoso Jim Vision? Perhaps.

Last night we held a short notice online virtual ramble through some of the art that provided great food for thought on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour in 2021.  With the benefit of being able to show slides from the past, we were able to look at the waxing and waning of Jim Vision’s Jerome St mural which concluded with the photograph shown at the top of this post mural taken 2 days earlier on 29th December.  This is the story of that mural and it ends with the dramatic update based on what we found today!

The history starts in 2020 with a curved wall pretty heavily battered with graffiti of varying styles and levels of accomplishment.  The artistic highlight on the wall was probably back in 2014 with a beautiful paste-up from the French street artist Ludo.

Street Art in Shoreditch by French street artist Ludo

Ludo, 2014

Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

Wild! Featuring Noze, Lap406 Oct 2019

Forward to 2020 and Jim Vision secures consent to paint the wall with permission and has claimed the spot as his since, painting a couple of portraits as part of his admirable “Colourful Women” series.  In the artist’s words this was “celebrating all women of colour with their vibrancy and strength, at the same time addressing an imbalance in the representation of women of colour on walls.  This first dates from early Summer 2020.

Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

Jim Vision, June 2020

The next portrait on this wall came complimented by a pod of killer whales.  In this next early December 2020 photo we see the mural in great condition with 8 killer whales swimming through, to the right is a cluster of illuminations and the background is an abstract veil of almost luminous vertical streaks.

Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

Jim Vision, 2nd Dec 2020

Just a few days later the negative spaces in the margins have been targeted with graffiti, including sundry tags and a nice piece by Lap in the background:

Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

Jim Vision, lap406 , 22nd Dec 2020

Things are relatively unchanged by July 2021, a throw has gone over the cluster of lights to the right, a couple of tags and Lap in the background appears to have been painted out.  Still the augmentations are occurring away from the main subject:

Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

Jim Vision July 2021

By October there is fascinating development in the artistic interactions taking place on this wall, Jim Vision covers up new tags with the creative and playful expedient of adding Orcas where the tags were.  Now the pod has grown to 20 killer whales and something a bit albino, or perhaps a 21st whale with only its white parts turned to us:

Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

Jim Vision Oct 2021

Halfway through December heavy tagging appears in quite aggressive spots at the centre of the portrait and a green tag close to the front of the face where the white whale was.  Ours is not to cast judgement!

Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

Jim Vision, tags, 19th Dec 2021

Then, on 29th Dec, a new killer whale appears to be likely to see in the New Year, its placaement jumping through the earring brings to mind the cruelty involved in keeping these beautiful beasts in captivity in sea life parks.  This was the state of play at the conclusion of the timeseries presented in the  “The Best Of Shoreditch Street Art Tours 2021” virtual tour last night (New Years Eve):

Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

Jim Vision, 29th Dec 2021

New Years Day, this morning, look what we found:

Street Art in Shoreditch by Spraycan artist Jim Vision

New Years Day 2021 Jim Vision with Slak & Cuso

Gonna take a lot more whales!

Jim Vision instagram

all photos: Dave Stuart


Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021

Well done 2021 for having the audacity to follow a totally weird year with an equally weird year, way to go!  Although life was not “business as usual” the year did yield some wonderful street art with unexpected and inspired new forms of creativity and a re-evaluation of the significance of paste-ups.  We are delighted once again to share some of the best Shoreditch street art 2021 and we are talking 4 real, none of that “curated from the internet” most writers serve up.  For once there is even a couple of “straight in at number 1” personal favourites moments, the risk being that the day after posting I will change my mind for different number 1 favourite.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Fanakapan anamorphism

So, how did the global pandemic continue to affect street art in 2021?  Most obviously the number of street artists from foreign shores who came to visit London was almost none.  So it was a great pleasure to welcome Stinkfish from Columbia, a regular visitor last spotted around these parts in 2017.  A significant number of his favella child paste-ups appeared but this mural really showcased those graffiti based spraycan skills.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Stinkfish with Fat Cap Sprays

The main opportunities to see overseas artists in Shoreditch came through paste-up art exchanged by overseas mail between artists then pasted up in reciprocal “you here, me there” arrangements.   NY artist City Kitty was quite visible in Shoreditch this year and he is what I describe as a “collaboration machine”.  It was a real delight to find this basketball playing City Kitty collaboration with New York sticker legend Chris RWK aka Robots Will Kill, and just a couple of inches tall.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

RWK City Kitty collab

Neon Savage neatly swerved the lack of locked down screenprinting facilities by improvising a hand finished screenprinting effect using images inkjet printed onto marker pen coloured paper earlier in the year.   Then right on the very last weekend before we descended into an unofficial lockdown-for-all-purposes-except-opening-Treasury-coffers, Neon Savage papered Brick Lane with gorgeous halftone acrylic and screenprinted pasteups.  Printing of this quality and beauty is the kind of cultural treasure street art delivers to those who seek.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Neon Savage

Fat Cap Sprays channels neon in a different way with super cute renderings of popular cartoon characters, popular depending upon which cartoon character era you grew up in of course, I am still waiting for him to do Marine Boy!  Fat Cap Sprays made a big impact in 2021, the growth of his social media following (stay off tik tok folks!) contains a message I am sure about the link between street art and “success”.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Fat Cap Sprays

David Speed continued to hammer out his phenomenal pink neon eye candy portraits.  There is a point at which cats in street art play the cute card a bit too readily but in this case David claimed a spot perfectly framed in the bus stop glass, nice use of street architecture.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

David Speed vs bus shelter

Artistic spats conducted on walls are a constant delight but when David spotted a paid for spraypainted advert in his signature neon pink he really took it out in style, nice one!

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Ed Sheeran advert

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

David Speed vs Ed Sheeran

Although Enigma is not new to our streets, this Japanese artist only came to my attention after his post lockdown return from Japan upon which he embarked on a prodigious outpouring of stunning murals styled as old school woodcuts.  Almost as remarkable as his street art are his garms when painting, smartly attired in a beige raincoat he looks nothing like the stereotypical street artist you might imagine.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Enigma

Dramatic light and shade and classical imagery came to London’s street art through the work of talented painter Alessandro Ioviero.  The Southbank Undercroft location has hosted several Ioviero works, my favourite being this beautiful painting of a contemporary bronze statue by young Ukrainian artist Maksym Haydar.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Alessandro Loviero

Alessandro often finds inspiration in the work of others, often sculptors, which moves him to provide his own painterly interpretation.    A curious dynamic occurred when Ioviero painted a detail of the Alexandre Cabanel’s Fallen Angel in response to Enigma’s rendition of a slightly larger detail just one week earlier on the same wall.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Fallen Angel by Alessandro Ioviero

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Fallen Angel by Enigma

There is a lot to be said for anonymity as a contrast to the self-promotion which seems often to trump actual art as a street art motive.   In the first part of the year reports came in from all over town about strange single line characters with half formed sentence morsels suggesting clues to the character’s mental state.   Street artists and geeks alike were intrigued by the identity of the artist, questions asked went un-answered.   I may have been much later than many smarter people but I only pierced the Why Reuben veil in November when some clues appeared drawing attention to the artist’s part in a group show.  Self-promotion wins every time!

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Why Reuben

If potty sums up your taste in humour then “I farted in yoga” is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and is seemingly an alias used by Why Reuben.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Why Reuben/I Farted In Yoga

Ahead of the London International Paste-up Festival I did not anticipate quite what a successful event it would be and my reservations weren’t just concerned with the awkward status battle in the first half of the title. The open call event in early November brought art from all over the world and a lot from artists not seen before in Shoreditch.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Various artists London International Pasteup Festival

Rather than an “Oh wow” at any particular pieces of art my main take-away was a reminder and re-appraisal of the impact paste-ups had in the formative years of street art supporting the emergence of street artists from a non graffiti background with a preference for quicker means of getting up and less beholden to the spraycan, unlike those with a graffiti background who generally preferred stencils.  Full write up HERE.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Various artists London International Pasteup Festival

Someone else who doesn’t need to be anymore brilliant than he already is is ALO, he had a prolific year on the streets crowned of course by a major solo show at the Saatchi Gallery at the year end.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

ALO

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

ALO, feat his good friend Dmintn

The pandemic lockdowns really gave Airborne Mark an opportunity to ramp up his multi-angle multimedia painting and video game.  Most people’s videos are a kind of “ooooooooohhh, look at me and my skills” whereas Airborne Mark’s premise is “This is an experiment and I don’t quite know if it’s going to work”, his videos are like art painting tutorials.  This year’s master spraypainting output included a number of signature origami creatures places on beautifully rendered strips of torn cardboard.   It is well work tracking down the video of him explaining the complexities of painting something as mundane as a torn piece of cardboard and his video of his second attempt to paint origami birds inside a glass jar is genius.  And having seen Mark paint quite a few times the videos are all the more impressive when you realise that its him on his lonesome doing the video, the commentary and the painting, not a video team in sight.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Airborne Mark work in progress

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Airborne Mark, Frog

Dan Kitchener’s Bladerunner-esque rainy Tokyo night scenes morphed recently into an impressionist view of the same through a rain drenched window.  On a small screen such as the one you are using right now, the eyeball resolves more clearly details like the cars in the image, there is no real substitute for seeing a painting like this in the flesh to appreciate its true life beauty.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Dan Kitchener

Wrdsmth, the vowel eschewing scriptwriter, took the dramatic step of moving to London after years of charming us with his mixed media typewriter life affirming mottos on his frequent visits from Hollywood.    Quickly settling into a highly creative run Wrdsmth demonstrated an expanded repertoire including a clever site specific piece as one of several contributions to the London International Paste-up Festival.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Wrdsmth

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Wrdsmth (detail from above)

Covid didn’t feature as much in London’s street art in 2021 but Dr D still points the finger at the Coronavirus for being such a buzzkill.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Dr D

Dr D is always going to bring political satire onto the streets, his conversion of a van into a prison transport van for the conservatives was bang on point for the shit show that developed around the UK’s Prime Minister.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Dr D

We celebrate the innovative, the novel and the inventive and something which ticked multiple such boxes at the end of the year were Perspex living apartments set into walls with missing bricks by Brickflats.  The purpose is to highlight how the outrageous cost of renting in London forces people to cram themselves into tiny boxes by squeezing modern looking perspex flats which take advantage of missing bricks in walls.   Assisted by a fragment of a map I went on a good old fashioned street art treasure hunt and found that all his brickflats were still in situ, a testament to the solidity of their novel installation.   The second installation below is actually a replacement of a missing cobble so you are looking into the flat from above.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Brickflats

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Brickflats

Perspicere also brought a totally different dimension to street art fusing string art with paste-ups in a way that so photorealistic it left you searching for the trick.  Having seen Perspicere creating one live for a street jam I am willing to take an oath and state there is no artifice, the image is created entirely from the intersections of the threads, of which there is north of several miles.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Perspicere

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Perspicere

In many conversations with old school graffiti heads the name Nylon comes up frequently as both a style innovator and a hardcore spot seeker.   New Nylon art is always a blessing and the way each vase can be appear as a pair of tribal faces or as a single cubist face staring us out was particularly clever.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Nylon

A Shoreditch street art year lacks vintage without Ace pasting up some exercises in screen printed iconography.  It’s not just that his art really triggers the right retina receptors, it the sense of continuity that Ace represents, linking the current new wave of paste up artists back to the fumbling fathers of street art which is where Ace come from.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

ACE

Ed Hicks’ tense, doom laden images channelled Victorian apocalypse painters.  This 4 panel landscape is perhaps my single highlight of 2021, you have to pinch yourself to remember that this is done with spraypaint.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Ed Hicks

Remaining with the painterly theme, Only HMZ not only blurred the boundaries between street art and graffiti with his gothic masterpiece fills within his letters, he went on to do crazy panel installations which in the case of the one presented below is mind-blowing for being, I believe, installed without permission.  The first work in progress photo illustrates Only’s letter form.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Only

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Only

There is a further conceptual dimension associated with this installation not apparent in this photo, the trio of lights at the top were solar powered and by some means also people sensing, at night as people walked under the lights each one wold light up in turn from left to right or right to left according to the direction the passer-by was taking.  Perhaps next time it will play a tune!

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Only

An artist who has had a sensational year was Pablo Fiasco.  Pablo sets the bar for stencil art in terms of technical complexity of technique and the art embodied in his concepts and ideas.  Bearing in mind that one of the key attributes of a stencil is speedy repeatability, PF reuses components from a library of stencils assembled over the decades in different combinations yielding completely different images.   Subjects broached in 2021 included rapper tributes, Brexit and a skateboarding ex Federal Reserve Chairman but this Mute8 stencil is the piece de resistance, I don’t recall every seeing stencilism of such complexity before.  The narrative starts top right and broadly speaking turns anti-clockwise.  In a laboratory a subject is to receive a vaccination, the subject mutates, escapes then there is a chase which concludes underwater.  Pablo was quite categorical that this theme of scientific mutation has been in his art for several years and it wasn’t his intention that this necessarily be read as a comment on covid vaccination.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Pablo Fiasco – Mute 8

With unauthorised exhibitions opening all over the globe and people taking advantage (I guess) of copyright loopholes to mint NFTs based on Banksy’s art it is easy to overlook that Banksy pulled off his best wave of actual street art since he did New York for 30 days in October 2013.   East Anglia is just sufficiently close to London to be day trip viable so despite fairly poor location descriptions I was delighted to be able to locate 8 out of 10 new original and authenticated Banksy street pieces in August.   At that time, even before Banksy’s authentication, it was not known that there were actually 10 pieces in the campaign.   Since then they have suffered various indignities including being partially dismantled (3 kids in a boat), covered in perspex, buffed, added to or most unforgivably in the case of both “under the paving stone” and the Banksy tagged model stable, acquired for profitable so-called protection by the usual avaricious gallery owner.   Although lacking any mind-blowing “bar just got set even higher” pieces, the collection displayed characteristic Banksy wit and audacity.

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Banksy

On the whole most of the pieces were looking quite photogenic at the time of my visit and I somehow charmed the Model Village owners to allowing exclusive behind the scenes access to photograph the stable

Best Shoreditch Street Art 2021 review

Banksy

So 2021, to call you a year is perhaps generous but what you lacked in meaningful real world calendar months you compensated for with brilliant art.  Many thanks to all street artists who have provided so much pleasure in their artistic endeavours and we look forward to plenty of new and exciting art in 2022.

All photos: Dave Stuart