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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

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Private Street Art Tour For the Price of Public Tour!

This weekend (Sunday 7th June) at last we threw off the lockdown shackles and showed off Shoreditch’s street art to some actual real guests!!

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Roa, Martin Ron, MD and guests

Here’s awesome street art expert and Co-Guide MD discussing on of our favourite artists ALO

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MD talks about Alo

Single household  COVID guideline compliant tours basically give you a 2 hour private tour for the cost of a public group tour, £20 per person – though a minimum charge of £60 applies.  Full details:

  • Up to 5 guests from 1 household
  • Duration 2 hours
  • Tours at 10am and 1pm
  • 10am Tours can be booked on the schedule.  1pm tours are by enquiry.

You can choose when you book whether to start from the goat statue at Spitalfields Market which is where our public tours have always started; or from Old Street where most of our private tours start.

There is a lot of exciting new art to see, here is a tiny selection of new art found in Shoreditch today.

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Subdude NHS

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“I Can’t Breathe”- David Speed

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New Eine

Take a tour – its not like there is much else to do!

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Digging In The Archives Pt 10

When I first began to explore street art one my favourite artists was and indeed still is French stencillist Jef Aerosol.  This Aerosol masterpiece was on Hanbury street and marked more or less a the time that this wall was just beginning to be used for permissioned murals.

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Jef Aerosol 2010

Shoreditch street art was dominated by stencilism in the 00s and why not, Banksy was the stencil artist kicking down the doors of public disinterest and general hostility.  K-Guy was and again still is a great personal favourite.  This is his take on the dual significance of the national flag, a symbol of pride yet also racism.

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K-Guy 2008

The next photo shows K-Guy’s artwork in context.  In 2007 Shepard Fairey hit that spot with a long lasting paste-up (a spot he returned to in 2012).   Sotheby’s and Bonhams started their urban art auctions in early 2008, others then hitched to that bandwagon.  This was probably the first occurrence I came across of an arts related organisation destroying a piece of street art in pursuit of advertising.  This shit still goes on and basically if you see street art being damaged in pursuit of the commercial interests of galleries, auctions and online sellers, then it’s a clear sign the fuckers do not get the culture, steer clear.

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K-guy 2008 featuring Shepard Fairey – defaced, dissed and abused

Special Offer: Free Art! The stencil on cardboard below was a piece of free art by the prolific, varied and much missed street artist Mr Farenheit. Hopefully it went to a good home. This doorway in fact the whole building, now demolished, was always intensely distressed and beautifully decayed; muscular rust on the iron door had very little sympathy for any paper pasted onto its surface. “Special Offer” is a detail from an ACE paste up; the thick black bars emerging over Twiggy’s left shoulder are a Paul Insect relic; D7606 also did great paste up montages on this door and it’s a rare photograph where you can’t see one of his pieces at this spot.

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Mr Farenheit, 2013

The pair of birds in the next photo by artist and graffiti writer Dr Zadok are done in the swirling style which characterizes both his graff letters and his art.   Alleyn Gardens habitués will note the virgin brickwork on the then relatively new North London Line.

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Dr Zadok 2013

The image below shows Dr Zadok’s hand finished bookcover in aid of Joe Epstein aka LDNgraffiti’s fundraiser for Great Ormond St Hospital.    More details and information about how you can to support the fund raiser and maybe win one of these fantastic prizes in the #LDNGOSHLottery is HERE.  Keep an eye out on LDNGraffiti’s Instagram for further announcements of more prizes.

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LDN GOSH Charity Book with Dr Zadok Cover art

Swoon again, simply because she rocks.  Close to Broadway Market, 2011.

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Swoon, 2011

Borondo was an extraordinary painter who lived in London for a number of years in the early part of the 00s.  His impressionist murals channelled the effect of strong colours but he first appeared doing single layer portraits created by splashing emulsion on the outside surface of glass windows then etching imagery into the paint with a fork.   Two artworks survive, the “11 Apostles” on the Bull in a China Shop on Shoreditch High Street as appears in the featured image above is easy to find.  This pair of figures from 2013 play with the window frames; the scraped paint has settled like frost on the window ledge.

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Borondo, Brick Lane 2013

And now, something consigned to the archive in just the past fortnight  !Things turned a brighter shade of orange across a locked down (ish) Picadilly Circus as the iconic illuminations displayed a charity digital artwork by Stik.  Stik must be alongside Shep Fairey and Banksy in the ranks of street artists who most consistently use their art for deserving causes.  This installation was in support of Young Westminster Foundation.

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Stik Picadilly Circus June 2020

Stik is also one of the 9 street artists who have joined Joe Epstein to raise funds for @GreatOrmondSt Hospital.   Each artist has created a special version of the book by hand painting the cover, so that’s 9 unique versions of the book.

See HERE for a blogpost with more images, details and link to how to support the fund raiser and maybe win one of these fantastic prizes in the #LDNGOSHLottery and keep an eye out as well for further announcements of more prizes.

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LDN GOSH Charity Book with Stik Cover art

We didn’t clap for carers in the UK this week, the mood switched more to pressurising the government to fund the carers properly, and reward them not to mention try a little bit of planning for a change as a second wave is held likely.   Seems like a good moment to shelve Diggin In The Archives, though it has been a happy accident of exploring my own archives and memories and so don’t rule out DITA’s resurrection sometime.

Check out the previous Diggin’ In The Archives weekly compendiums starting with week 1 and then hopefully navigate the index to find the rest: DITA 1

All photos: Dave Stuart

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Tour Returns (Yay!) and What We Did In Lockdown

Hurray! Shoreditch Street Art Tours is back!

It has seemed like forever since we suspended street art tours on March 6th, so it’s a pleasure and relief to get back to showing you the exciting street art in Shoreditch.

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Dreph

Thanks to Steve Bailey for the lovely feature photo at the top of the post of Dave on tour a few years ago.

For the time being we are tweaking the form of the tour but the quality will remain the same!  The headlines are:

  • Single household guideline compliant tours – so each tour is a private tour.
  • Up to 5 guests from 1 household
  • Duration 2 hours
  • £20 per person subject to minimum charge of £60
  • Tours at 10am and 1pm
  • 10am Tours can be booked on the schedule.  1pm tours are by enquiry.

You can choose when you book whether to start from the goat statue at Spitalfields Market which is where our public tours have always started; or from Old Street where most of our private tours start.

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Papped! Life Is Beautiful, Feb 2013

Shoreditch Street Art Tours couldn’t really work from home during the lockdown so we got to watch a lot of great videos and to listen to lots of great podcasts.  One of the best has been Art Online put out by London blog Inspiring City, run by my good friend and street art fan Stuart who asked me to face a few questions.  Lots of interesting things were discussed, Stuart and I hope you enjoy it!