Author Archives: Shoreditch Street Art Tours

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ALO Street Art and Show

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!

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Brick Lane 2020

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.

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Untitled – Dalston 2020

ALO has just had a solo show titled “Grace”at the BSMT Space gallery and among the brilliant pieces were copies  of some of his recent street pieces.

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ALO: Marrakech

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ALO: Lunia

His art has been dominated by figures and portraiture and the expressionist paintings in his  show were so enchanting that I made this compilation of some of the many faces he painted.

Being a great fan of ALO I have written a broader appreciation of the Grace show which you can see on Graffoto, my other blog.

Links:

ALO website

BSMT Space website

 

All photos: Dave Stuart

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INSA Animated Mural For London Mural Festival

Spraying walls was the name of the game throughout September for the London Mural Festival. Shoreditch Street Art Tours is going to bring you coverage of the highlights soon but first off, here is one of the absolute standouts, an animated wall by INSA.

Old school graff writer INSA has been creating “Gif-iti” walls on the Shoreditch streets since 2011.  The one which probably brought greatest recognition was cops perpetually chasing eachother in the Cycle of Endless Futility, a tour favourite from its creatiom in 2014 to its sad loss to mural adverts in 2018.

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The Cycle Of Futility, Redchurch St 2014

INSA’s contribution to London Mural Festival #LMF20 consists of 8 strips each with an animation frame, the images segue along the wall.  As a static painting this could almost be a contemporary stained glass window.

It comes alive with INSA’s Gif-iti viewer, you can download that HERE, or go to the App store on your Phone, search “INSA’s Gif-iti Viewer”.  Don’t worry this app is legit, not spam!   Point the viewer at the image above on another device and Bob’s your uncle, the image comes to life!

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INSA, London Mural Festival 2020

If you can’t recreate the effect, check out this recording made using the Gifiti Viewer in front of the wall.

The critical question with any piece of street art is what are we looking at, what does it mean?  What I am seeing is someone throwing something, the action looks reminiscent of a protester hurling a Molotov.  Could that tousled blonde mop be anyone other current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson?   What is being thrown is something of a mash up between the stripes in a piece of toothpaste and…the old Tory party logo.  At time of writing the Tory party is having its annual conference – online.  There’s a Boris Riot going on.

You may see something different and INSA’s concept may be different from all our theories, that’s art.

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Tory Party Logo

You can also recreate The Cycle Of Futility experience pointing your viewer at the image above.

London Mural Festival turned out to be quite epic, stay tuned for further coverage in the near future on the Shoreditch Street Art Tours blog.

Links:

INSA website

INSA Gif-iti website

photos and video: Dave Stuart

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Redchurch St Street Art History

Redchurch Street in Shoreditch has changed dramatically over the years but seriously good street art has been present throughout the whole gentrification process.

As part of the Shoreditch Design Triangle, itself a subset of the London Design Festival, I was asked to survey the history of Redchurch St’s street art.   The novel twist was that OnRedchurch, the people who got in touch, set up several Cabinets of Curiosities in window fronts on Redchurch St where QR codes linked to online features, I wrote about those last week.   Here is a reproduction of my survey of Redchurch street art produced for the Shoreditch Design 2020 Triangle Cabinet of Curiosities.

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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.

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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.

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Sickboy 2008

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INSA 2009

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.

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Cityzen Kane, James Bullough, 2015

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Mobstr, 2011

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.

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Cept, Dscreet, 2009

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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.

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Dr Zadok, Meeting Of Styles 2014

Jim Vision, a spraypaint artist and key figure at the more permissioned end of the street art spectrum resided for many years on Redchurch Street.  In his role as organiser of the Meeting Of Styles graffiti festival Jim Vision arranged impressive murals on Redchurch Street as well as painting massive spectaculars himself.  He also curated a number of pop up graffiti writers and street artist group shows in several Redchurch St locations.

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Probs 2009

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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.

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Roa 2009

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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”.

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INSA 2014

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.

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EINE, 2008

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.

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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 Richmix at the eastern end of Redchurch St.

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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.

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Zomby, Type, 2011

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Stormie Mills, 2009

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Duk, 2010

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Jimmy C, Alo, Cartrain, T.wat, Cityzen Kane 2013

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Pure Evil, 2012

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C215, 2013

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NEOH, 2012

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Unify 2014

All photos: Dave Stuart

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Shoreditch Design Triangle Cabinet of Curiosities

Shoreditch Design Festival doesn’t stop for any pandemic!  Some establishments welcome visitors under the now customary public place precautions; some like Lee Broom have modified their contribution in the form of window displays and, for those of you have patiently read this far and are demanding “give us the street art”, a Cabinet of Curiosities” on Redchurch St is your thing.

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Lee Broom – Maestro

A Cabinet of Curiosities is traditionally a display of the weird and wonderful objects collected by freaks and geeks.  Think implausible mummified cross-bred creatures In glass bell jars, pickled vegetables that look like politicians, ridiculously large street art photograph collections.

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Redchurch St Cabinet of Curiosities

Amongst the designer boutiques and niche fashion shops on Redchurch Street a couple of virtual Cabinets of Curiosities have been set up as window displays which deliver content through the OnRedchurch St website.  It’s a neat idea which highlights some of the amazing design and creativity going on behind those walls whose defacement and daubing is more usually the subject of my scrutiny.

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Redchurch St Cabinet of Curiosities

Drawn in by a bearded man-fish on the Cabinet of Curiosities, a QR code takes you to Donna Wilson via the OnRedchurch virtual Cabinet of Curiosities, next thing is you’re peeking inside the design madness of an actual real world Redchurch St shop you’d never normally meander into.  See what they did there!

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Donna Wilson Cabinet Image

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Donna Wilson Virtual Cabinet

So now we get to the street art bit.  It was a privilege to be contacted by OnRedchurch to provide the Shoreditch Design Festival Cabinet of Curiosities with a history of street art on Redchurch St and take my word, there has been a heck of a lot.  Or don’t take my word, all you have to do is scout out Redchurch St, find the right (and pretty obvious) part of the Cabinet of Curiosities and then check out the feature on your phone.

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Donna Wilson interior

If you have been a past guest of Shoreditch Street Art Tours it’s probably a 50-50 chance that you are familiar with Redchurch St; if not, this little videographic meander along the length of Redchurch St will pick out some of the locations engaged in the Shoreditch Design Festival, look for the pavement stands marking the participants.

Shoreditch Design Triangle runs concurrently with the London Design Festival, 12 – 20 September, there is more than a small chance that the Cabinet of Curiosities will remain in place until someone next needs to clean those windows!

Links for Cabinet of Curiosities:

Shoreditch Design Triangle website

London Design Festival website

OnRedchurch St website.

Lee Broom website

Donna Wilson website

Links for artists in Video:

Camille Walala website

Tizer instagram

Shucks instagram

Jonesy instagram

Ekta Kaul website

All photos and video: Dave Stuart, Shoreditch Street Art Tours

 

 

 

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Shoreditch Street Art Tour Honoured

They say it, you said it – Shoreditch Street Art Tours is within the top 10% of attractions worldwide.  Shoreditch Street Art Tour is currently ranked 13th out of 1490 Tours in London which actually places it in the top 1% of this category, wow!

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This image and featured image at top of post courtesy Tripadvisor

We turned professional street art tour guide in 2013, which is to say the transformation was made from the occasional intermittent activity the tours had been since 2008 to turning a hobby and geeky knowledge in a full time activity.  Since then the feedback from guests has been both charming and also very helpful, we are always tweaking and developing the Shoreditch Street Art Tour and the feedback from guests is an important contribution to that process.

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Triadvisor has been a key aggregator of guest opinion and this morning 1980 of the total 2038 customer reviews are 5 star, that’s 97.2%!!!    In a world where cynicism and complaint typically has a much louder voice that satisfaction, it is wonderful that so many of our guests have taken the time and trouble to share their opinions publically, and it is not possible for Shoreditch Street Art Tours to give enough thanks for that.

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Latest review – Thanks to Lina and Cat, screengrab courtesy Tripadvisor

We will not rest on our laurels; our exploration of new street art, new artists, their new ideas, techniques, politics and motives will never cease.  Our mission to provide expert led, top value walking tours will go on and on, even in these difficult times.  For now though we just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years by taking their time to provide such wonderful reviews, we would be nothing without YOU!

All images courtesy tripadvisor

A Shoreditch Street Art Drive By

To be more accurate, this is a “ride by”.  Brick Lane, a veritable spinal column supporting ribs of street art in its side-streets has been closed to through traffic.  Pedestrianised is perhaps too strong a word for the transformation but Indian curry houses have expanded outdoors sending furniture, serving waiters and hustling barkers onto the pavements.  A colourful and beautifully fragrant sense of cafe life has descended onto the street.  Cyclists and pedestrians roam where fume belching vehicles once ruled and we were able to capture a sense of walkers and cyclists enjoying this new found freedom against a backdrop of wonderful street art.

Video by Dave Stuart

disCONNECT – Street Artists Indoors

DisCONNECT

South London

24 July – 24 August 2020

10 artists, mainly street artists, were invited to make over a house in South London and use any of the relics found in there before the new owners undertook a refurbishment.   Covid-19 threw a spanner in the works though, so several of the artists incorporate a sense of the pandemic in their pieces and 6 of the artists being based overseas had to make and install their work using skype, like scientists cautiously tweaking the location of the reactor rods by remote cctv.

The art world is not providing too much in the way of real life excitement these days and while one should never confuse the art world with the real world, nor the street art world, it was a pleasure to experience disCONNECT for real just before it closes this week.

Herakut (Ger) – Nursery

Legendary trainyard graff snapper Alex Fakso specialises in candid portraiture, his  2012 “Santa in Camo” show in Kensal Rise indicated a quite idiosyncratic approach to subject as did his 2017 Moniker contribution.   Followers of my instagram account may recall that on a tour 2 weeks ago we bumped into Alex Fakso creating a graffiti painting and photo paste up hybrid on a railway bridge.  On this installation crowds in the photos rush towards the viewer in a way that feels horrifyingly alien in these public-gathering avoiding socially distanced coronavirus times.

Alex Fakso (Italy, living UK)

Alex Fakso (Italy, living UK)

Seeing Zoerism’s geometric and intricate graffiti on the streets is a rare pleasure and his anamorphic experience echoed that hugely detailed style.  Anamorphic images are designed to be viewed from one spot and look a bit skew-whiff from any other, this image was installed flat on the floor and up against the wall creating this impressive 3D “trick of the eye”.

Zoer (Italy)

Herakut’s fusion of photorealism and spindly elfin characters in Davy Crockett hats shouldn’t work but looks awesome.  You are invited to sit for a selfie with the monkey in the nursery –  if your chess game is up to scratch.  The kids in the playroom have painted child-like drawings on the nursery walls, credited to a 7 year old Ryker.

Herakut (Ger) – Nursery

A double set of doors and a single door were shipped to Portugal for Vhils to work his magic, a refreshing reminder of his talent for “discovered texture” portraiture.   His mining into layers of adverts to reveal portraits works superbly where it belongs, out on the streets but it’s a bit of a puzzle why having an implausibly deep block of compressed billboard adverts would work indoors.

Vhils (Portugal) in the library

The dark entrance lobby was made over by a collection of Mr Cenz’ cosmic ladies, UV light brought sharpness to the highlights that define the outline of the faces, an effect we love to play with when photographing his portraits out on the streets.  Unfortunately we failed to take any photos in the lobby though the effect can be vaguely appreciated in this mercifully brief video snippet.

In lockdown Aida Wilde railed against the reckless anti social behaviour of people ignoring the social distancing, lockdown stay-the-fuck-away guidance.  Her “Granny alley” installation in the most challenging room in the house distills a lot of that passion and anger into blocks of text and her emoji infused pseudo-flock wallpaper.

Aida Wilde – Granny Alley aka “the smallest room”

Aida Wilde – Granny Alley aka “the smallest room”

After years of vicariously enjoying Icy and Sot’s art finally we saw a piece in real life.   The dining table apparently came from the kitchen, in which case it must have been a relic from the downstairs kitchen many years ago.  The beautifully conceived and executed articulated plates and cutlery apparently represent capitalism with the extension leaves up and a full plate on the table. With the extension down symbolised socialism, in which case this neither-up-nor-down configuration pretty much sums up post-Corbyn Labour.

Icy and Sot (Iran) in the kitchen

Issac Cordal’s morose concrete figures endured this Summer’s monsoon in the garden and just about maintained their social distance in a gloomy basement.

Isaac Cordal (Spain)

Isaac Cordal (Spain)

Isaac Cordal (Spain)

Flock was evidently in vogue when the house was last given a decor update as the pattern recurs in several of the installations.  Adam Neate bid for the window blinds and the colour and texture makes a great skin motif in his ghostly portraiture.

Adam Neate (UK – living Brazil), stairwell

This show exceeded expectation, though that says more about our expectations than the artists involved. The unbalanced capitalisation of the show title exhorts to us to somehow re-connect in these desperate times where isolation is salvation and this show is worth connecting with.  Time is running out though and indeed thanks to covid restrictions tickets are very limited.

All photos & video: Dave Stuart  

Covid 19 Shoreditch Street Art

You didn’t think a killer virus was going to stop street artists did you?  Shoreditch witnessed an outpouring of street art addressing the Covid 19 pandemic and its surrounding issues from a number of angles.   It’s amazing what a street artist could achieve with that one hour outdoor exercise license non-shielding people had during lockdown.

One of the most prolific artists was Nathan Bowen whose suitably masked characters appeared all over from West to East.

“Stay Positive/The NHS Warrior” – Nathan Bowen

“Thanks NHS” – Nathan Bowen, Harry Blackmore; Oxford St

Nathan Bowen, Harry Blackmore, Ernest Obi – Shaftesbury Avenue

Almost as active as Nathan were Deanio X and Seen K26, often in the company of Tasnim Mahdy

Stay Strong – Deanio X, Seen K26, Tasnim Mahdy

“Stay Strong” – Deanio X, Seen K26, Tasnim Mahdy; Picadilly Circus

Deanio X, Soho

Our weekly clap for carers, which was a beautiful collective thank you, has stopped but it is clear that many street artists remain grateful on our behalf to the NHS, to the carers and other key workers.

“A quiet prayer holds over London…” We Love Our NHS – Robert Montgomery

Thank You NHS – Jimmy C

Is it just me sees concentric stained glass hearts in shades of NHS blue in this homage by DRT?

DRT (with Nathan Bowen & Co. in background)

Graffiti Life

On the flipside from the love for the NHS comes blame flinging and conspiracy theory. The UK’s elected political masters and their un-elected advisers repeatedly preached one thing but practiced another to the point that anyone else would have felt embarrassed by. Street artists can be quite merciless when political hypocrisy becomes apparent and they proved yet again how swiftly street art can respond to current affairs.

In some countries the political response was based on denial or even deceit, Subdude latches on to those moments quite brilliantly.

Corona Credit Score = 0, Subdude

On the revelation that the NHS workers Boris thanked for his care in St Thomas’ Hospital were immigrants who now under the conservative government’s mooted minimum wage threshold would not qualify to come and lend their skills to the UK’s underfunded understaffed health service:

So How DO You Like Us Now Boris, Subdude

If you need to know what “Dominic Does Durham” is pastiching, ask your Dad

Dominic Does Durham, Subdude

The early days of the UK response to the Covid crisis were characterised by simple clear messages and this apparent clarity was reflected in the referencing of the messages in the art. K-Guy found the graphic design and linguistic shorthand of those official three stanza instructions we saw on the podiums at the daily Coronavirus press conference in England lent itself to highlighting political neglect as an amplifier of the spread and impact of the disease through hospitals and care homes.

It’s A Testing Time, K-Guy

“Infected frontline policies”, K-Guy

“Intensive Don’t Care”, K-Guy

The surprising move to abandon testing and tracing and the awful situation regarding inadequate PPE provision featured in several pieces. Frankie Riot references the famous press conference where World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus offered the simple “Test, test, test” which many developed countries decided to ignore with pretty devastating consequences.

Protect NHS Workers – Frank Riot

China again:

Covid Eau de Virus – ‘Orrible

Stay Safe, Remain Free – Artist Not Known

As Shoreditch Street Art Tours has emerged from lockdown doing very small private street art tours for the same price as the public tours, just so you know, the single piece of pandemic art everyone appears to be aware of is, not surprisingly, Banksy‘s nurse superhero painting on canvas “Game Changer”, donated to Southampton General Hospital.

“Game Changer” – Banksy, Photo: Banksy website

Banksy has done three pandemic related artworks: the aforementioned “Game Changer”; his earlier skit on the idea of the elusive rat stencilist working from home and most recently his brilliant makeover of a London tube with rascal rats parachuting with PPE face masks, rats tagging with sanitiser gel and rats sneezing all over the carriage in a lurid echo of the animation played frequently on the UK TV of the dispersal of vapourised snot from a sneeze in a train carriage.

Snot rat, Banksy

You don’t mask you don’t get – Banksy

You don’t mask you don’t get – Banksy

Among all the inspired pandemic related art and the positivity towards those who placed themselves in way of potential harm for our care, one artist was creating pro NHS art years before it became fashionable. Ben Wakeling recovered from his own mental health issues to channel his efforts into art as a therapy for people with mental health issues and his therapeutic work and his Outsider Gallery have proved so effective that his art therapy can now be prescribed by GPs.

To end this lockdown lookback on a positive note, could any message be more appropriate than Mark Titchner’s “Please believe these days will pass” plea.  Let’s hope the optimism is well founded.

“Please believe these days will pass” – Mark Titchner

Artist Links (additional):

Harry Blackmore

Ernst Obi

Robert Montgomery

Jimmy C

Graffiti Life

Frank Riot

Orrible

All photos: Dave Stuart except courtesy Banksy where noted