Friday, July 25, 2014

London street art

While in London, we took a guided walking tour of London's East End to see the street art.

The tour group is called Alternative London and the tour guides are street artists themselves.

This is our guide and artist Ben:

I will try to explain, as best I can, some of the techniques, etc. of these examples of this amazing art genre. (The descriptions will precede each photo.)

This was a full size mural on the side of a building - what you see here is just one small section - approx 6 feet by 6 feet. It was a combination of spray paint with stencils and paste up printed art.

This was a section of delapidated brick wall about 2 stories high. This was made with stencils and spray paint. The artist and his wife work together. They will use over 20 stencils in a piece like this.

The next two are small, colorful sections of walls that featured many layers of art. One on top of the other. Much if it was hand painted. Some of it was paste up.

This was hand painted. To the right of the painting you can see the sketch of another work in progress. This was approx 3x5 feet.

I love this paste up. It is beginning to peel at the edges but you can still read the title in the lower left corner, "my dog sighs."

This is a combination paste up and spray paint - do you see that it says "ear" where her ears are?

This one is a combination of paste up and spray paint. I love how the paint has dripped down.

This is a good shot showing the scale of some of the work. This artist created an entire deep sea scene as a paste up and adhered it to the second story of this building. No easy task in the middle if the night.

This is a small stencil painting (about 2x2 feet). "Made in the Shade." All of this art goes up in the middle of the night - it is illegal (unless the artist has permission from the building owner) and the sentence is 2 yrs in jail.

This artist uses only spray paint in his creations. To get the special swirling pattern, he keeps his paint in buckets of ice. This thickens the paint and changes the texture.

This artist first plastered the side of the building and then came back several nights later to chisel out the plaster work. Apparently he used a jack hammer. Do you see the CCTV? He disabled it somehow while he did his work.

Ben was an awesome guide. He lives and works in the east end and was full of wonderful political opinion and historical perspective. As in many cities, gentrification is a threat to this diverse and unique neighborhood. High rises are moving in. Along with Starbucks and Subway. Pushing out the bagel shops and corner markets. It made me sad to know that in a few years all of this art might be gone - along with the artists. Ben said they're moving to other cities (Berlin for example). So interesting. We got to see a living breathing art movement in action. It was by far the BEST thing I saw and did in London. I highly recommend it.

I will end this post with a photo of Ben and one of his artworks in the background. He painted a portrait of a dear friend of his who has passed away. I don't remember the man's name, but he was a friend and mentor to many of the artists here. A bit of a rebel himself. Refusing to sell his building for redevelopment.


Unknown said...

Absolutely incredible!!!! I love street art while the rest of my family rolls their eyes.

Elizabeth said...

I love it. A couple of years ago, we had an amazing graffiti art exhibit at MOCA downtown that was truly mind-blowing. I feel hopeful that gentrification will not stop the art -- we have so many neighborhoods here in Los Angeles that become gentrified, but the art comes and goes and comes again, and it's always surprising, a delight, really.

Beanie Mouse said...

The London East End is brilliant, and highly under-rated. Unfortunately, "famous" artists such as Tracy Emin insist on living and working there, making it "trendy" (or gentrified) and pushing out the real eastenders - such as Ben there. Same thing is happening to my home town, Brighton - a lot of the London highfliers have moved here pushing prices/rents/mortgages through the roof. Brilliant post here!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

All the photos you took of the street art are beautiful. I knew graffiti was illegal, but I was surprised to read that this was, too. We have several murals in our town, but apparently, they were commissioned or given permission by the owner.

At first, I thought the first mural was loaded upside down. Silly me, especially after seeing plants/weeds? on the sidewalk area of the building.

Between your "mudlarking" adventures on the Thames, and the street art in the East End, it appears London held much adventure and fun that "normal" tourists might overlook. What a fun post!

~*~Patty S said...

Thank you for sharing this super tour with us Kimmie...great photos and oh so interesting...this forbidden art on the fly sure looks grand!

Annie Cholewa said...

Lovely post Kimmie, thank you for sharing it with us. I may live in the UK but I'm so far from London that I rarely get there, but I've promised myself a trip to see the London street art soon.

cjsrq said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. What a wonderful tour. It's hard to believe it was all created at night.

Anonymous said...

I saw a fascinating documentary about these artists. I dislike graffiti tags but murals are fine if the artists have permission to use the walls in lieu of canvas. Artists should respect building owners' rights if they want respect for their artistic expressions. I fret over what aerosols do to the atmosphere though.

Anonymous said...

Most amazing. The hidden or least travelled parts of a city are often most interesting....faacinating. xox

Rebeca Trevino said...

i love graffiti art/street art. i wrote a paper about in college about graffiti in NYC...fascinating.
i will be sure to do this tour next time we are in london. i wonder if other large cities have something similar.
anyway, very beautiful work.

big mamabird said...

Hi, just blog-hopping-lurking my way around the net tonight and saw this great post of yours--' What a fun tour! The artwork you saw with 'my dog sighs' on it is BY my dog sighs, you can find him on flickr, I love his work!Be well, Carroll