Tag Archives: Street Art

Graffiti street art flyposters and people in the Braithwaite tunnel at Wheler St in Shoreditch London featuring artists Helch and Knapple

Some People Are On The Pitch…

Why does a street art tour guide snap adverts?  The answer is simply for love of the graphic response adverts provoke.  The way people subvert, augment and modify adverts is pretty much an artform in itself.  The printed advert becomes a host for forced artistic collaboration and capturing the “before and after” timeline yields fascinating mini histories of public intervention.

illegal flyposter advert in Shoreditch

don’t buy it, don’t buy it….

A week ago I photographed an illegal flyposter advertising a new album release, in itself it was a quite compelling photograph. When I returned from a week in Wales the advert was still there, to my surprise, though now it hosted several graffiti enhancements. The black tag with the jagged arrow underlining reads ARTIK LTB who is an hugely impressive creator of large scale rollerbrush graffiti all over London.  There is also a vertical tag which could be “Sey”; the large “throw” over the three characters in the advert appears to read PY and there is an arcing “Shmokey” tag in a white marker with quote marks and triple dotted underlining.

illegal flyposter advert subverted by a graffiti writer in Shoreditch

Artik, Shmokey and others vs advertising

The next morning the Shoreditch Street Art Tour passed through this tunnel and that advert had been replaced with a fresh crop of flyposters which I dutifully snapped at high speed as we passed by.    Although I am I swear completely and utterly immune to adverts, there is an advert for Ed Sheeran in that collection which is a curious coincidence as last Summer on a Shoreditch Street Art Tour we spotted Ed Sheeran serving burgers out of a silver airstream style street food truck just yards from that very spot.

illegal flyposter advert in Shoreditch June 2021

June 2021 Flyposters

Ed Sheeran serving fast food from a silver airstream truck in Shoreditch London spotted on Shoreditch Street Art Tour

Ed Sheeran padding his CV, 2020

To my delight, just 24 hours later on Sunday that collection of adverts had augmented with a gorgeous fat chrome and black dub by Noyse.

illegal flyposter advert subverted by a graffiti writer in Shoreditch

Noyze 1 Flyposters 0

So, why do people make marks on adverts?  In the case of street artists, being anti advertising has been a core sentiment since the movement’s origins, for many artists it justified illegal street art created in response to desecration of the visual public landscape by overwhelming advertising.

illegal flyposter advert subverted by street artist Decapcitator in Shoreditch

Decapacitator vs Uniqlo, 2008

Graffiti writers will point to the fact that the adverts are in locations designed to attract eyeballs, they also provide a nice clean surface for easy marking. In the case of the locations photographed here they also happen to be right next to key graffiti spots and many graffiti writers just happen to be in the area with the right equipment

graffiti by sony over spraypainted advert for Breitling in Shoreditch

spraypainted watch advert subverted by Sony (ironic? lol)

Just a brief note on the title of this essay which may seem a little obscure particularly if you are not British or a football fan.  There is an iconic fragment of BBC commentary from 1966 which registers as one of the nation’s most patriotic collective memories, see the short clip below; an advert is a “pitch”; people intervening on an advert are “on the pitch” and the football theme is relevant as the Euros are currently underway 1 year late.

Here is a small selection of some favourite earlier examples of advert subversion:

illegal flyposter advert subverted by street artist Anna Laurini in Shoreditch

Anna Laurini “Let’s Advertise”, 2016

illegal flyposter advert in Shoreditch in 2020

very arty advert

illegal flyposter advert subverted by street artist Nathan Bowen in Shoreditch

Bowenised

illegal flyposter advert for Lady Gaga subverted by street artist DFace in Shoreditch

D*Face vs Lady Gaga 2016

Does the advertising work?  There is still no way I could be persuaded to purchase an Ed Sheeran album 🙂

LINKS:

Artik instagram

Sony instagram

Nathan Bowen instagram

Anna Laurini instagram

D*Face instagram

all photos: Dave Stuart


street artist ALO street art female portraits in Shoreditch

The Darling Street Art Buds of May

Shoreditch Street Art Highlights From May 2012

William Shakespeare is rarely the first thing we think of in street art.  Shakespeare’s downer on the month of May was its tendency to be a bit windy so with the low temperatures and  rain experienced in May 2021 London certainly bore some of the weather characteristics maligned by the bard in the sonnet Shall I compare Thee to A Summers Day.

The weather didn’t deter street artists and with outdoor groups of more than 6 permitted from May 17th not to mention of course the reopening of some of our favourite watering holes there was a lot of street art activity around Shoreditch.  Here are some of the highlights we found on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour:

ALO had a prolific month and the highlight was this quintet of females painted without permission at the major intersection between Old Street, Commercial Street and Shoreditch High Street.  See also the featured image at the top of the post.

street artist ALO painting street art in Shoreditch

ALO work in progress

street artist ALO street art female portrait in Shoreditch

ALO, female portraits, May 2021

street artist ALO street art female portrait in Shoreditch

ALO, Moroccan Lady, May 2021

Pablo Fiasco painted some jaw dropping stencils in May, the complexity and skill of this father of street art defies belief almost.  This –on-the-wall guide to selecting caps for spraycans was genius, and the word “was” is used as the piece, as ephemeral as a mayfly, has been written over.

All Caps with MF Doom tribute – Pablo Fiasco

Stencil Street Art by Pablo Fiasco behind the Old Blue Last on the Shoreditch Hoxton Border in London

MF Doom tribute – Pablo Fiasco

One of the great excitements for a street art aficionado in London is to discover a new Jonesy bronze.  One of the tour groups early in May shared my joy as I spotted a brand new Jonesy I did not know existed – from the other side of the main road!

SStreet Art Bronze castsing on top of a pole by Jonesy in Shoreditch London

Jonesy bronze

Street Art Bronze casting on top of a pole by Jonesy in Shoreditch London

Jonesy bronze

Shoreditch’s main purveyor of broccoli, Adrian Boswell hit the streets hard with floret of broccoli presented as bite size angel, devil or 24 carot gold broccoli.

Broccoli street art by street artist Adrian Boswell in Shoreditch London

Adrian Boswell Angel, Devil & 24 Carot Gold Broccoli

3km of string was all it took Perspicere to make this beauty which appeared on the old Shoreditch Tube Station which is on Pedley St just off Brick Lane.  String street art is comparatively rare and London based artist Perspicere is the master of the genre, in fact quite possibly the only street practitioner – yarn bombing is something different.  Sadly this piece didn’t last too long as some thief went to a lot of trouble prizing it off the wall, that’s the temporary nature of street art.

Rare String Art Street Art by Perspicere in Shoreditch London

Perspicere

Finally for this May street art flashback, Ed Hicks produced a spraycan art masterpiece on Great Eastern St, inspired by the apocalyptical landscapes of 19th century painter John Martin.  This truly extraordinary painting lasted about 5 weeks.

Amazing Street Art mural by artist Ed Hicks in Shoreditch London

Ed Hicks

All photos: Dave Stuart


Logo of street art zine Very Nearly Almost

Remembering Street Art Zine Very Nearly Almost

Lockdown has given the opportunity to spring clean the digital street art photograph archives.  Exploring defunct folders served as a reminder of the pleasure that came from nearly a decade of making a small photographic contribution to a street art zine.  Here is a little look back at the days of street art zine Very Nearly Almost including some precious memories that editor and founder George MacDonald kindly took the trouble to share.

Collection of Very Nearly Almost zine covers photo George MacDonald

Very Nearly Almost – photo courtesy George MacDonald

In 2006, a limited edition print release on the opening night of an art show by a street artist in Shoreditch would for sure result in a queue going down the street.  One Thursday it was opening night at Leonard St Gallery, I don’t recall which artists, someone walked up and down the queue giving away a photocopied street art zine.  It was a time the way art was shared and enjoyed was changing radically, street art fans and artists uploading photos to the internet, particularly street art forums and Flickr was fostering a very versatile, growing fan base.  Publishing that zine, Very Nearly Almost, on paper was definitely going against the digital tide.

Editions 1 and 2 Very Nearly Almost zine for street art

Very Nearly Almost Editions 1 and 2 – photo courtesy George MacDonald

Some months later the VNA editor George MacDonald got in touch asking if he could use a photo of some ephemeral street art piece or other from my Flickr collection, he’d give me a free copy (price had gone up to £3) so I said “sure”.  From that small interaction I became part of a small select group of London street art photographers who contributed photos to the zine.

“Those early days of VNA were all about the purity of documenting the scene. I felt passionate about capturing the hard work of street artists and so badly wanted to share them with everyone.”  George Macdonald, Editor VNA

Street Art Zine VNA DFace edition

Issue 10 D*Face regular and Limited edition screen print covers

The magazine’s print standards rose quickly, the quality of the writing improved significantly.

Very Nearly Almost Street Art Zine various editions

Very Nearly Big, Bigger and Biggest – Editions 3, 7 (C215) and 12 (Roa)

Each edition had a featured artist with a large interview and a special limited edition screen printed cover collector’s edition would come out.

Shepard Fairey Limited Edition covers for Street Art Zine VNA

Issue 15 Shepard Fairey regular and Limited edition screen print covers

Launch nights were held in galleries, pubs and boutiques and they became as rammed as any artist’s opening night.

VNA Very Nearly Almost zine launch party at Pictures On Walls Sep 2011

Edition 16 Space Invader Launch Event at Pictures On Walls September 2011

The magazine even won awards and got international distribution.

Very Nearly Almost street art zine edition 21 launch at old StolenSpace

Launch gathering, Old Stolen Space, Jan 2013

 “I look back on the VNA days fondly. We constantly tried to make the magazine better and better and the party’s bigger and bigger.” GM

Each edition of the magazine featured photos of the latest London street art and often featured the best from one or two “guest cities” around the World.  A very impressive collection of street art photographers from London chipped in flicks on a regular basis including Cheffo, Claude Crommelin, Delete, Howaboutno, Mark Rigney, Paul Gray, Romanywg and myself.  It was an honour to be among such a select group, having a photograph published in VNA was be regarded as prestigious.  It reached the stage where I’d take a street art photo, look at it and think “yep, going to hold that back, it might be good enough for VNA”.

“Flickr was the perfect place at that time for street art photographers. There was some serious competitive documentary photography going on.” GM

Very Nearly Almost VNA street art zine edition 23 Faile covers

VNA Edition 23 Faile covers

It was a thrill to get your hands on a new copy on launch night, weeks or months after you sent in your latest photos and see which if any of your photos made the edition.


April 2021: Check out the Easter series of Virtual Street Art Tours


Nelly Duff Gallery hosted Launch of Street Art Zine VNA Very Nearly Almost Edition 28 Mike Giant

Edition 28 launch at Nelly Duff Gallery 2014

Sadly VNA became rather a victim of its own success.  The publishing volumes, the commercial arrangements, the organisation of special artist contributions and the development of something called a life became too much for what was for almost everyone involved essentially a hobby.    George and his team called a dignified end to VNA in 2016, going out with a bang with a huge DFace edition.

VNA street art Zine Edition 35 D*Face cover

VNA Edition 35 D*Face cover

Staff at Very Nearly Almost zine

VNA editorial, production and sales team, StolenSpace 2017

“In the end, we needed to fully commit and keep pushing but we were all running out of time between family commitments and jobs. I felt it was slipping away from us so we pulled the plug. It’s a shame as I wanted to keep going until we got that Banksy cover but it never happened“ GM

Very Nearly Almost sticker by Mysterious Al for street art zine Very Nearly Almost VNA

Mysterious Al/VNA sticker 2013

So, where is this heading?   The archive of photos offered to VNA which never quite saw the light of day in print contains some beauties.  In almost every case the art no longer exists so it’s time to occasionally dig out those ex street art pieces.  Check out and follow the Instagram hashtag #VNAOneThatGotAway, who knows what nuggets might surface!

street art photo by NoLionsInEngland Dave Stuart not featured in Very Nearly Almost zine

#VNAOneThatGotAway – Fanakapan and Envol aka Horror Crew 2014

DFace stickers street art photo by NoLionsInEngland Dave Stuart not featured in Very Nearly Almost zine

#VNAOneThatGotAway DFace Stickers 2010

Ella et Pitr street art photo by NoLionsInEngland Dave Stuart not featured in Very Nearly Almost zine

#VNAOneThatGotAway Ella et Pitr 2010


Street Art Of Banksy at Reading Prison landscape shot

Art Of Banksy Appears at Reading Prison

A street art stencil has appeared on the wall of the former Reading nick and after making us wait a little while, it has just this afternoon been confirmed this is art of Banksy, the tease.

Street Art Of Banksy at Reading Prison wide context shot

Create Escape by Banksy, Reading Prison

 

As usual the confirmation comes simultaneously via his website and his Instagram and for the second time in less than a year it is in the form of a video showing in gripping detail an unidentified person spraying a stencil on a wall.  A well sorted stencilling strategy is so important to a successful outcome and the video contains many hints about the order of operations for this particular artwork.

Street Art Of Banksy at Reading Prison unnamed person stencilling

screengrab from “The Joy Of Painting With Bob Ross…and Banksy”, Copyright Banksy

The artwork depicts old fashioned “over the wall” flit by a prisoner and the presence of the typewriter suggests the escapee is a writer.  All the coverage has inferred the art is related to Oscar Wilde’s incarceration in Reading and that seems reasonable.  Lots of references to Oscar Wilde’s last published work “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” abound though many contend that the piece was written while Wilde was in Reading while literary historians say it was written post release.

Street Art Of Banksy at Reading Prison full shot

Create Escape by Banksy, Reading Prison

Plenty of local coverage draws attention to a campaign to turn the now closed prison into an arts centre so there could be a political aspect with Banksy possibly offering support, though this would be the exact opposite of his intervention in 2010 which condemned the use of his street art as the centrepiece of a new “art-hotel”.


Banksy’s London street art career is the subject of “Banksy – The London Chronicle” – the virtual presentation by Banksy expert Dave Stuart coming up over the Easter period, more details HERE 

composite image of Banksy street art with stencil rat and stencil Westway Highwayman

Banksy Virtual Tour – If Graffiti Changed Anything and Westway Highway Man


Three elements really raise this seemingly modest artwork in the Banksy cannon.  Its placement is stunning, it is by the give way lines on a major roundabout in inner Reading so the chances of the artist being spotted were very high and indeed there are reports and photographs of work in progress last Sunday.

Street Art Of Banksy at Reading Prison "Simple Intelligence Test In Dumb Animals", reproduced from Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall, copyright Banksy 2001

Work In Progress by anonymous photographer, Reading and Berkshire News

Secondly, it has context.  There is the physical context which is why you need to see the prison in the backdrop, not for nothing does Banksy’s video includes a rising birdseye view over the wall.  If you don’t see the prison buildings well, it’s just a high wall isn’t it.  The historical context too is important, this being where Oscar Wilde did time and so the prisoner has the old school (non graff) writer’s tools of the trade, the typewriter.  The weirdly downward pointing CCTV almost directly over the spot supplements the giggles nicely.

Street Art Of Banksy at Reading Prison closer shot

Create Escape by Banksy, Reading Prison

Most importantly, while politically it is relatively mute although some are contorting themselves to see it as Banksy support for a Reading art centre, it is a brilliant cartoon.  It ranks alongside the Simple Intelligence Test In Dumb Animals cartoon from Banksy’s 2001 book “Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall”.

"Simple Intelligence Test In Dumb Animals", reproduced from Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall, copyright Banksy 2001

“Simple Intelligence Test In Dumb Animals”, reproduced from Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall, copyright Banksy 2001

"Simple Intelligence Test In Dumb Animals", reproduced from Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall, copyright Banksy 2001

“Simple Intelligence Test In Dumb Animals”, reproduced from Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall, copyright Banksy 2001

"Simple Intelligence Test In Dumb Animals", reproduced from Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall, copyright Banksy 2001

“Simple Intelligence Test In Dumb Animals”, reproduced from Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall, copyright Banksy 2001

There is a key aspect which the media hive seems to have collectively missed.  The prisoner has been almost universally described as escaping from the prison using knotted blankets, even this afternoon in its umpteenth repost on the piece the BBC is STILL adhering to the idea they are bedsheets yet that is clearly not the case.

Street Art Of Banksy at Reading Prison typewriter detail shot

Create Escape by Banksy, Reading Prison

Someone has given the wily prisoner a typewriter and under the guise of a major lengthy literary masterpiece, the prisoner has surreptitiously typed an escape rope on continuous paper.  This is about outsmarting your captors, just like the monkey in the intelligence test.  Or, as Banksy himself put it in his punchline to that cartoon “A lot of people never use their initiative, because no-one told them to”.

Street Art Of Banksy at Reading Prison typewriter detail shot

Create Escape by Banksy, Reading Prison

Awesome.

Photos: Dave Stuart except as stated

 


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Redchurch St Street Art History

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

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

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Malarky, Ronzo, 2011

Redchurch Street with its swish boutiques, street fashion, food and coffee was until barely a decade ago a cut-through lined by roofless derelict properties and empty wasteland plots.  As street art found its home in Shoreditch, Redchurch Street’s rough surfaces, dark corners and curious small spaces came to host a huge amount of street art and to play a role in developing the careers of many significant street artists.

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Redchuch St 2008 feat ATS, Peripheral Media Projects, Toasters, Jak-D and Faile

Derelict properties led to squat galleries and exterior canvasses for street artists.  The former Section Six Gallery, now the apartment block next door to Labour and Wait, sported a kaleidoscope of stencils and paste-ups and eventually was transformed with a mural by street artist and fashion designer INSA.

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Sickboy 2008

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INSA 2009

After dereliction, the next phase in an area’s development sees properties made secure and ahead of redevelopment, street art becomes tolerated and, occasionally, explicitly consented. Many Redchurch Street facades witnessed early street art pieces from artists such as Roa, Otto Schade and Jimmy C and others who have since gone onto international success.

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Cityzen Kane, James Bullough, 2015

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Mobstr, 2011

Redchurch Street still had proper corner shops until a few years ago, shutters provided prime real estate for a rolling exhibition of graffiti luminaries such as Cept and Discreet, Aset (RIP) from the ATG crew and Vibes representing the RT crew.  A significant factor was the presence of specialist spraypaint store Chrome and Black which had an entrance next door to Richmix on Redchurch St.

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Cept, Dscreet, 2009

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Mean, Aset (RIP) 2014

Redchurch St was a linear building site for a large part of the late noughties, extensive building site hoardings hosted furiously changing art stencils, paste-up, tags and murals by artists from the UK and abroad.  There is little doubt that street art was co-opted as a tool in the “gentrification” phase.

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Dr Zadok, Meeting Of Styles 2014

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

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Probs 2009

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Jim Vision 2014

The cottage at the junction with Club Row hosted some stunning murals by Roa, James Bullough and Jim Vision as well as a long running relief sculpture by artist Cityzen Kane installed with permission as a poignant tribute to his deceased son.

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Roa 2009

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Cityzen Kane, James Bullough, 2015

As is often the case galleries sprung up In advance of the arrival of boutiques. The event space at the junction of Ebor St, in its guise as the London and Newcastle Gallery was the venue for pop up exhibitions by street artists such as Borondo, Insa and Shoreditch’s own Pure Evil as well as graffiti writer group shows.  Its outside wall was the location of a piece of INSA’s pioneering “Giffiti”, an augmented reality mural which with a smartphone app would reveal a squad of policemen chasing eachother in  “The Cycle Of Futility”.

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INSA 2014

Urban Angel at the junction of Redchurch St and Chance St had very distinctive shutters declaring themselves as ART, as indeed they were having been painted by EINE in 2008.   Doomed by the coincidence of its opening and the financial crash of 2008, its brief existence saw it host shows by Remi Rough, Hush, Copyright and Best Ever.

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EINE, 2008

It is hard to believe that 11 years have passed since Graffiti legend and renown musician Goldie had a two floor solo show with live painting demonstration at the Maverick Showrooms.

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Goldie, “The Kids Are All Riot”, 2009

At the time of going to press the London Mural Festival is in full swing and London Design Festival favourite Camille Walala has provided a huge makeover to the rear of Richmix at the eastern end of Redchurch St.

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Camille Walala, London Mural Festival 2020

The logical trajectory of combining property development, street art and expensive shopping reaches its unavoidable conclusion with spraypainted adverts appearing where once there was street art, though having spent years honing their spraypainting skills in the riskiest circumstances, who would begrudge artists a living.

Among the niche fashion houses, beauty treatments and designer furnishing accessories Redchurch Street has not lost its edgy cool, a stroll will still yield brilliant stickers on lampposts, freehand non- permissioned portraits, art paste ups and for the especially observant, illegal bronze castings by street artist Jonesy.

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Zomby, Type, 2011

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Stormie Mills, 2009

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Duk, 2010

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

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Pure Evil, 2012

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C215, 2013

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NEOH, 2012

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Unify 2014

All photos: Dave Stuart


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Shoreditch Design Triangle Cabinet of Curiosities

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

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Lee Broom – Maestro

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

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Redchurch St Cabinet of Curiosities

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

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Redchurch St Cabinet of Curiosities

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

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Donna Wilson Cabinet Image

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Donna Wilson Virtual Cabinet

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

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Donna Wilson interior

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

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

Links for Cabinet of Curiosities:

Shoreditch Design Triangle website

London Design Festival website

OnRedchurch St website.

Lee Broom website

Donna Wilson website

Links for artists in Video:

Camille Walala website

Tizer instagram

Shucks instagram

Jonesy instagram

Ekta Kaul website

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

 

 

 


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Shoreditch Street Art Tour Honoured

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

Shoreditch, London, Street art, Shoreditch Street Art Tour, London street art tour, tripadvisor, reviews, award winning

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.

Shoreditch, London, Street art, Shoreditch Street Art Tour, London street art tour, tripadvisor, reviews, award winning

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.

Shoreditch, London, Street art, Shoreditch Street Art Tour, London street art tour, tripadvisor, reviews, award winning

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


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

“Stay Strong Key Workers” 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