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Paste-Up Street Art Festival in London 2021

The history of street art is a complex story whose content varies depending upon author, location, editorial preferences for a “creation” date and people’s differing actual lived experiences.  Its ripping away from graffiti was for many reasons dominated in the early phase by stencilism, the significant role of the paste-up technique is easily overlooked.  Perhaps the London International Paste-Up Festival has addressed that.

lots of paste-up street art pieces by artists who participated in the London International Paste-up Festival in Shoreditch

LIPF paste-ups

LIPF was held over the first weekend in November and featured art on paper by 100s of artists who responded to an open call by the organisers and here is a hat tip to Outside The Zone (Trix Mendez) and Art House Project London (Apparan).  I had the pleasure of kind of winding up proceedings by leading a street art tour around the spots.  This gave me the unexpected joy of meeting some street artists whose work I have loved for many years for the first time as well as renewing acquaintances with familiar artists and friends, I learnt more from the experience than anyone.

Street Art Tour group led by David Stuart, tour guide with Shoreditch Street Art Tours posing in front of London International Paste-up Festival spot

Artist rich group on the London International Paste-Up Festival free tour led by our guide Dave. Features artists Meandblue, DaddyStreetFox, Subdude, FaceTheStrange, SweetheartStreetArt, Mypenleaks, Wrdsmth, Deko,

One reason why paste-ups were so significant was newcomers to street art who were not coming from a graffiti background were not going to spend hours creating, perfecting and refining a spraypainted piece of art under risky illegal circumstance, their art would be prepared at home, in the studio or at school and then pasted up in seconds. The paste-up was the ultimate in risk avoidance yet participants still experienced that buzz, the thrill of being a little bit naughty in a relatively harmless way.

An uncurated street art wall with massive collection of street art paste-ps by artists from London and abroad

Wild paste-up wall in Shoreditch

More than other forms of street art paste-ups have an ability to acquire a history, to evolve. There is a joy in the aging of paper, the savagery of rips and tears, the marker pen additions from passers-by, the possibility that meaning is changed by clever juxtaposition of another piece of art. Some artists regard their art as having an independent life on the walls and indeed even photograph their paste-up to rejoice in those changes.

Paste-up Stree tart showing pop art coloured multiple British phone boxes with Kurt Cobain from Nirvana playing guitar inside

D7606 Kurt Cobain in the wild

Kurt Cobain plays in 3 pop art coloured phone boxes by street artist D7606 at London International Paste-up Festival

D7606 at LIPF

The LIPF art was pasted up in Shoreditch over the preceding couple of weekends by a coalition of willing and experienced locally street artists.  One of the kind of predictable and I argue welcome consequences of this early installation was other artists subsequently adding their creativity in and around the LIPF displays.

paste-up installation by street artist Shuby for London International paste-up Festival

Corrosive8 vs Eartha Kitt Catwoman by Shuby

Creativity is a word that means different things to different people, beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all that.  Here we see WRDSTH explaining how his Winona Forever paste-up was “edited” by artist unknown and subsequently restored by him and he gave a wonderful articulation of his rationale for doing so.  For the benefit of readers and those who heard WRDSMTH’s anecdote first-hand, the second picture below shows the redacted artwork.

street artist WRDSMTH presents his paste-up art to a tour group led by Dave Stuart, Shoreditch Street Art Tours

WRDSMTH presents his art to #LIPF

Modified subverted paste-up street art by Wrdsmth, augmented by artist unknown

Subverted WRDSMTH paste-up

The festival locations facilitated several different presentation styles for the paste up.  Two spots highlighted individual artists, Yu_wallart and JD Montaigne in an installation format, reminiscent perhaps of something by Ludo or early Camille Walala when walls were less cluttered!  It would be rare these days to see single stand-alone paste ups like this but hey, organisers gotta make use of the spots they have available!

paste-up installation by street artist Yu-wallart for London International paste-up Festival

Yu_Wallart

Street artist J D Montaigne installation seen on the street art tour led by tour guide Dave Stuart

J D Montaigne installation

In four other spots the team had created massive banners of art pasted onto vinyl which was then tied to what in any other circumstance would be advertising frames.  The first one featured below serendipitously referenced the world’s most prolific paste-up artist.  Its placement and elevation high up the wall precisely matched a Lenin paste-up placed illegally by Shephard Fairey in 2007.

paste-up installation featuring many street artists for London International paste-up Festival

LIPF Paste-up banner, Bateman’s Row

Old photo of a Shepard Fairey paste up in Shoreditch in 2007 with a later Chris Stain paste-up from 2008

Shepard Fairy 2007, Chris Stain 2008 below

The two Old Street banners had to be taken down on Sunday evening but the others on Dereham Place and Bateman’s Row (above) could last a few more weeks.

Banner of pate-up street art by international collection of street artists in Old Street Shoreditch

Paste-Up Banners on Old Street Shoreditch

The Paste-up sppot on Derehman Place with lots of paste-up street art pieces by artists who participated in the London International Paste-up Festival in Shoreditch

LIPF Dereham Place paste-up spot

The location the artists referred to as “The Beast” became my favourite as it offered the closest approximation to the layering and direct application of art to the wall that we see in the wild.

the wall the London International Paste-up Festival crew called The Beast

The Beast wall

Collaboration is a wonderful aspect of most forms of street art and one beautiful collaboration that emerged in the festival was between Donk and Uberfubs.   Donk pasted-up his brilliant “Higher Ground” piece a week before before the main crew got to work with the other paste-ups, the second photo shows the dramatic impact on his monochromatic composition after Donk invited Uberfubs to augment it with her flouro creatures, Natasha Searston also got in on the act.

Collaborative street art paste-up piece from the London International Paste-up Festival with street artists Donk, Uberfubs and Natasha Searston

Donk, Uberfubs, Natasha Searston collab

Donk did his bit to shame the youngsters by getting his Dad’s art pasted up in the festival, a quartet of coppers with appropriate symbolic numbering which represents the acronym ACAB which means…..go figure!

Paste-up street art showing images of 4 policemen on copies of the Metro newspaper with a numerical representation of the acronym ACAB

ACAB by Donk’s Dad

Some collaborations arise through intentional placement, such as the kitty cat and rat living in perfect harmony with two foxes, others are actually created as single sheet collaborations

Animals getting on toeether in a group of paste-ups include a kitty cat, a rat and two foxes

City Kitty, a rat, Yaya and DaddyStreetFox

Perhaps the guiding hand of the installers has had a role in placing a body positivity collaboration between Flakes Store and Planet Selfie adjacent to a Playgirl cover and Sam Fox in a box.

paste-up installation by street artist FLakes_store and Planet Selfiefor London International paste-up Festival

Body positivity collab Flakes_store and Planet Selfie, Samantha Fox by D7606

The Live and Let Live/Street Art Against Hate project was initiated by the #NoHate family, an awesome group of street artists from Cologne. Artist were invited to support the anti-hate initiative by creating paste-ups adding their art within a circular “Live and Let Live/Street Art Against Hate” message.   A version from Streetart.globe gave me the prompt to explain Sunday’s tour group the Street Art Against Hate project and the opportunity to demonstrate the power of collective paste-up messaging with an anecdote about the time I came across their Brick Lane Wall of Love in the company of two parents who had lost a son in an American High School mass murder. Full 2018 story HERE. The impact of the message and the touching affect it had on Patricia and Manuel Oliver in 2018 truly demonstrated something about paste up street art.

Street Art Against Hate repping at LIPF

As I told the story, street artist Face The Strange handed me two of his versions of the paste-up message demonstrating perfectly that the project is actually still alive and doing good things.

Street Art Against Hate paste-ups demonstrated by Shoreditch Street Art Tour Guide Dave

Street Art Against Hate paste-ups by Face The Strange, photographer’s preferred credit “a street art observer”

One of the more inventive uses of paste-ups we have witnessed down the years has been Dr Cream’s creation of online stop frame animations using paste-up linoprints.

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

Daisy Riot animation frames by Dr Cream

He has done loads of these in Shoreditch over more than a decade and something we have never succeeded in doing is to locate all the elements of an animation to have a go at rendering our own, it is nice to think that this game or quest was Dr Cream’s gift to the streets.  Finally, courtesy his LIPF installation we have all the frames of a star jumping Daisy Riot animation and I was thrilled to get it to work, though my effort does appear to be a homage to the jumpy animation style of Roobarb and Custard (look it up!)

As the social media flurry around the Festival subsides, I mentioned in my little digital contribution that I had enjoyed leading the Sunday tour and had learned a lot from the guests and artists present.  As I pointed out the drama in the layering of Rider’s fluorescent prints against his darker monochromatic background, MeandBlue helpful informed us that the two prints flanking Rider’s display were by David Shand, an artist who was new to me.  David focussed on the residue of tears and colours generated by time acting adverts on the streets, a phenomenon paste-up are beautifully susceptible to.  David passed away last year but as I explored his art online this week I got the sense that the spirit and intent of the festival would have chimed with him, it was lovely to be introduced to his work through the art on the wall.

very flouro paste-up princes by street artist Rider with prints by deceased print artist David Shand on either side

Rider flanked by David Shand (RIP)

No matter what form a piece of street art takes it will always by elevated by good placement and use of the environment.  Wrdsmth scores highly for matching the “Hearts Shatter” text with the shattered glass, happily no wrists were slashed in the placement of the oversize stencil through the jagged shards.

mixed media stencil and paste-up installation by street artist Wrdsmth for London International paste-up Festival

Hearts Shatter, mixed media by Wrdsmth

The festival concept had a few minor and unavoidable aspects in which it deviates from the nature of paste-up street art in the wild.  Pasting all the art up at one point in time denies the “patina” of a good street art spot that comes from artworks going over eachother, from the tearing, the layering, the decay and aging at different rates from different moments in history.  Seeing the artists own particular eye and mind controlling placement and juxtaposition is often desirable.  On the other hand paste-up street art actually facilitates collaboration, sharing and representation by mailing paper or digital art to friends in other locations and letting them get on with it.

Shuby, Uberfubs, Art.tits, Carl Stimpson

Something rather less obvious from the participation in the LIPF was the gender balance.  The art world is notorious for its discrimination on many basis especially gender.  A crude assessment based on identification of artists in a sample of 155 photographs suggested a ratio of male to female artists of 5:3.  It’s not great, it’s not perfect but it is likely to be better than the perceived state of play in the in gallery world.

Did the paste-up festival work? It got huge numbers of artists’ work visible on the streets, it introduced the art of many artists from overseas that we had not seen here before, it brought new artists to outdoor walls who have never displayed in public this way and it gave huge visibility to this under-sung street art genre.  It was a success.

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All photos Dave Stuart except where noted

London, Shoreditch, Streetart, streetarttour, tourguide, LondonInternationalPasteupFestival, LIPF, pasteups