On Saturday I went along to a Street Art London Tour around the East End’s area of Shoreditch, and it proved to be amazingly inspiring! Left me truly wanting more.
Street Art London is an organization that is closely connected with the street art scene in London. They closely follow and work with various street artists on different projects and exhibitions. It takes much dedication as the street art is constantly evolving, sometimes a piece can last a couple of days and others for months at a time. Having such a close working relationship means that they can gather information first hand, not from a secondary source such as books and internet, making the information provided on their tours really exciting and real.
I used to live in that area and the streets (and back streets) are adorned with striking street art pieces that help create the urban visual buzz that the area offers. In between observing the street art, I did start to recognize different artists’s “hand writing” and what was really great for me is that on the tour I got to learn their names and a bit about their story!!
The walking tour took about 4 hours, with a lovely lunch in supa hip hang out The Book Club. I was praying that it wouldn’t rain and my prayers were answered We met at the designated meeting point around Old Street Tube station early Saturday morning and once everyone that was booked in turned up, off we went.
I don’t know much about the graffiti culture but our guide was really helpful in explaining the difference between graffiti artists and street artist, their culture, the techniques used and why the artists would paint the way that they did i.e. their influences and training. The fact that Street Art Tours work with most of the street artists whose work we were shown means that they are capable to go in great depth about it all. Insider knowledge is always good!
I am going to include some of my favourite pieces that we were shown below
The first piece that we were shown was about 5 metres from our initial point. And it involved us looking down, at the pavement. Amidst chewing gum stained pavement some small brightly coloured art appeared! Artist Ben Wilson from Muswell Hill has decided to take it upon himself to make the city’s pavements slightly prettier, but painting over chewing gum stains with bright acrylic paint. His pieces are intricate and depict landscapes.
Christiaan Nagel is originally from South Africa and has been in London for about three years. During this time he has been installing large, brightly coloured mushrooms all around the city on top of buildings, bridges and walls.
Artist Ben Eine is well known for his vibrant typographical letters that either appear as a single letter or as standalone words such as “Scary”, “Exciting”, “Vandalism”, “Change” and “Calculate”. When creating single letters, they often appear on shop front shutters, indicating the first letter of the shop’s name.
Phlegm is a street artist from Sheffield. He trained at university as an illustrator, which comes across in his deatiles, monochrome pieces. He takes inspiration from etching and dip pen techniques, which he used himself in his self published comics whilst studying.
Pablo Delgado’s work was really striking. Not only does he create complex characters with stencils, but also tells a story in each of his pieces, allowing characters to work together towards a particular narrative.
Seeing Roa’s street art was one of the highlights for me. His work is instantly recognizable as he paints large, monochrome textured animals. Originally he hails from Belgium and his biggest work is the Roa Crane on Hanbury Street (Summer 2010). He has also put up rats and birds along Brick Lane, but can only be seen at night, as they hide during the day as his works also appear on shutters.
Another of my favourite piece was by street artist Invader, who originally hails from Paris. His work is recognized instantly, as he pays homage to the Space Invaders arcade cade that took storm in the 80’s. He uses coloured tiles to represent the large pixelated characters that appeared in the well known game. The first character appeared on the streets of London in 1999.Many more have appeared since then, acting as little surveyors of the city!
(all images for space invader are secondary sourced)
I really liked Stik’s work, which not only appears around London, but has adorned places in New York, Berlin, Jordan and the Middle East. Stik is best known for his “Stik men”, which are monochrome simplified versions of the classic stick man. I find that although they are very simplified, they also manage to convey the emotion that the artist was trying to portray.
I have noticed Mobstr’s work before, and it was really exciting to see other works by him. He tends to use the same font throughout his pieces; strong, simple bold characters that convey a mixture of sarcastic, cynical and council provoking sentences. Brilliantly simple.
One of the most exciting was street art that I saw today was by street artist vils. I really liked this as he has managed to create 3-D work, which shows a complex and talented nature. Vils plasters onver bricks and then uses a chisel to carve into it once dried. This results in a large scale, modern version of an etching. A-mazingggg
Below are some other ones that caught my eye during our tour