Tag Archives: Shoreditch

Spitalfields – More Than Just Street Art

Street Art needs walls! Whether its Shoreditch or Spitalfields, street art may hang on hoardings, stick to street signs, augment adverts, decorate doors or flourish on flyposters but wondering at walls is the main thing on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour.  Walls beg a secondary purpose (wink) and minds distracted from art may dwell on fortuitous factors such as boundary, division, shelter, protection, property, privacy and possibly even more – where would windows hang if not framed in walls?

We pass a lot of walls on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour and a lot of wondering what lies within and behind those walls occurs.  Today the good people behind the doors of 8 Spitalfields properties invited the world in to see their urban gardens and we were delighted and fascinated.

Close by, Brick Lane teems with colour, noise and life but within these private Spitalfields spaces there is serenity, tranquillity and a sense of calm seclusion.  There is also tremendous inventiveness and creativity in the use of tiny scraps of urban space.  “Nothing but rubble below this paving” said one owner in his back garden; “foundations 5 brick deep” said the owner of another 1740s silk merchant’s property.

All the properties visited lie within the Fournier St and Brick Lane Conservation Area with the exception of the offices of The society For The Protection of Ancient Buildings at,37 Spital Square   which is in the Elder St Conservation Area.  All except one of the properties is Grade II listed.  Whilst fascinated by history, Shoreditch Street Art Tours makes no claim to being historians.  There are some fascinating reads to be found online which provide contest for the historical development of Spitalfields and its properties, such as “The Hugenots Of Spitalfields” website, the Spitalfields Trust  and the Spitalfields Neighbourhood Planning Forum website

The Spitalfields gardens were open as a group as part of the National Garden Scheme open day programme which clearly does great work raising funds for a variety of charities and we are grateful to the residents for opening their doors to provide such a fascinating insight to parts of Spitalfields not normally accessible by the public.

For those of you who explore the outsides with us, here is a collection of photos that is a bit horticulture, a bit architecture, a bit nosy-parker but mostly a record of a nice opportunity to view Spitalfield’s insides, withins and behinds.

All photos: Dave Stuart

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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

 


Among the street art highlights are advert defaced by street artist D*Face

Street Art Highlights For November

Shoreditch walls sure got a lot of attention in November, we have a lot to choose from in selecting some of the highlights.

At the beginning of the month a long standing discrepancy was addressed, the significance of paste-ups was recognised by the first (assuming there may be more) London International Street Art Festival.  At six Shoreditch locations paper art submitted by artists from all over the world was pasted for a weekend jamboree of pasteup art.  Here are just a few photos that capture the tone of the event, to check out a full write up including a lot more detail photos and to see the result of my effort to reproduce a Dr Cream street art animation, click HERE.

Street artist Wrdsmth describes street art to the London International Paste-up tour in Shoreditch

Wrdsmth on London International Paste-up tour

The London International Paste-up tour in Shoreditch with the special tour by Shoreditch Street art tour guide Dave

London International Paste-up Festival site and tour group

a London International Paste-up Festival site in Shoreditch

London International Paste-up Festival

a London International Paste-up Festival site in Shoreditch

London International Paste-up Festival

As street art proclaimed itself in its formative years to be anti advertising and as D*Face is a hugely significant figure in street art we are actually going to step outside the parish for a brilliant D*Face billboard subversion south of the river.

advert defaced by street artist D*Face

D*Face vs a building society advert

For fairly obvious reasons night time street art photography in the Summer doesn’t really happen but November saw a lovely few nights of clear weather and great art to photograph.   Fanakapan’s balloon was looking quite ghostly and translucent in the night illumination.

stunning chrome balloon painting by Fanakapan photographed with light painting by photographer and street art tour guide Dave Stuart

Fanakapan at night

We also photographed the latest Mr Cenz portrait on Fashion Street, a spot Mr Cenz has held down for years.

beautiful futurist female portrait painted by street artist Mr Cenz, photographed with light painting by photographer and street art tour guide Dave Stuart

Mr Cenz at night

Both those artworks are actually from earlier in the year but if you would like to take photographs like these of street art at night, come and join one of our Night Street Art Photography tours, for more details click HERE.

Enigma was prolific and on awesome form in November, this playful reversal of the shadow hands phenomenon is delightful.

Street Art mural in Shoreditch by Japanese street artist Enigma shows rabbit in spotlight making shadow hands

Enigma

That photo can only be followed by another version of a shadow hand, this time by Perspicere whose new string produces real eye catchers.

string art by street artist Perspicere just off Brick Lane in Shoreditch

Perspicere

In November we finally discovered that those single line smiley faces and the “I Farted In Yoga” characters were by Why Reuben and yes, she is carrying a yoga mat in the photo.

simple single line street art character saying "I farted in Yoga" WITH A WOMAN CARRYING A YOGA MAT

I farted in yoga

My favourite piece of graffiti this month is probably this piece by Wiet who pulls off the combination of turquoise, green and purple like it was always meant to happen.  I hope you can pick out the letters!

beautiful graffiti in London by Wiet

Wiet

To close this month’s look back we have Combo CK from France who put up a pair of stunning large scale paste ups images without permission, this Berber Horse is a nice continuation with the fascination with Moroccan colours that we have been seeing in Combo’s street art over the past few months.

Massive paste-up street art in Shoreditch by street artist Combo CK from France

Combo CK

I hope you all enjoy a good December and have a wonderful Christmas, see you on the other side.


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


illegal 0screenprint paste ups by Nylon with graffiti by Drax and Flash on decayed building front

October Street Art in Shoreditch

October ushered in a tipping point in our weather and our clothing choices changed through the gears through the month.  Autumnal colours compete with fresh new artwork on the walls and one exciting development in October was the return of visiting artists from overseas.

Enigma is a Japanese artist who was based in London for a while pre pandemic, went back to Japan and has now returned to London on a permanent basis.  I count seven murals painted since his return in August, five of which he painted this past month.

street art mural by Enigma of weeping man with head on arm

Enigma

It was fascinating to see Italian artist Alex  respond within the week to Enigma’s maudlin male with one of his own, did you spot the tear from the right eye in each?

weeping man by Alessandro Ioviera in Shoreditch

Alessandro Ioviera

It was brilliant to see graffiti legend Nylon splashing some colour on Shoreditch walls, these 3 faced pots just blew my mind.

tribal primative vases by Nylon with hint of cubism

Primative cubist objects by Nylon

Nylon was accompanied by his friend ACE, as evidenced by this screenprint which has what I believe to be a tribal primitive embellishment by Nylon.  See also the featured image at the top which includes earlier tags from graff kings Drax and Flash.

street art paste up screenprint by A.ce augmented by Nylon

Ace and Nylon

A long awaited trend we spotted this month was the return, at long last, of visiting international street artists because they truly sprinkle a dash of talent and genius on the Shoreditch streets. Stinkfish is from Columbia and has been visiting Shoreditch leaving spraypainted and pasteup art in his wake.

coloutful mural of a face in profile by street artist Stinkfish in Shoreditch

Stinkfish Mural

pasteup by Stinkfish in Shoreditch

Stinkfish pasteup

Combo CK was a new name to us and his non permissioned pasteups made a great impact for their size and beauty, his homage to “Girl With Pearl Earring” was a standout.

street art by French artist Combo in Shoreditch homage to Girl With Pearl Earring

Combo CK

Dan Kitchener yielded one long held Shoreditch spot to Stinkfish but cranked up the impressionism another notch with a new “through the rainy window” style mural at another spot.

impressionist mural of a rainy Tokyo street scene at night by street artist Dan Kitchener

Dan Kitchener

We had the pleasure of coming across the versatile Woskerski writing a graffiti piece, he found time to paint a couple of lovely pieces of art including this hound fully prepared for the change in weather.

A blurred train whizzes over a street art painting of an Afghan Hound by street artist Woskerski

Woskerski

Wrdsmth has been visiting London since 2014 to place his wry and uplifting typewritten messages on the streets of London.  He recently gave in to the irresistible charms of London and relocated en famille here and has been taking Shoreditch spots by storm.  Here he has added his clever wordplay alongside a DONK from a few months back

two illegal pasteups on a Shoreditch backstreet by Donk and Wrdsmth

Donk and Wrdsmth

Wrdsmth and Donk have both part of the posse preparing the London International Pasteup Festival, several locations were prepared in October so while technically they are within the scope of this post I am saving the best of the bunch until the November highlights as the Festival takes place next weekend 4th – 7th November.  Lets have another great month and hopefully we will see you back on the street art tour soon.

All photos: Dave Stuart