STREET ART LONDONJuly 20, 2012
The Street Art scene is buzzing right now. Across the city, amazing Street Art is appearing on shop shutters and empty walls. For a while at Urban Outfitters, we’ve had our eyes peeled every time we’ve popped down Brick Lane for a bagel, so when we got the chance to join Street Art London’s tour of the city’s Easterly hotspots, we grabbed that chance by the scruff of its neck.
We found ourselves outside Old Street station, where we accidentally stood on the first work. Ben Wilson, unconventional street artist from Muswell Hill, has made between 8,000 and 10,000 chewing gum works, which he paints and seals to London pavements – but who chews the gum first? We must know!
After a pretty comical start, we wended our way along Old Street, glimpsing a Banksy here and a Stik there. Towards the heart of Hoxton our minds were blown by an old squat-cum-3-D-canvas. This building, which is destined to become a swanky hotel, is drenched in Street Art and graffiti by artists with talent to burn, including a giant ferret by the Czech Republic’s young painter of the year, Roa, and a deliciously intricate mural by Bristol-based trained illustrator Phlegm, which made our stomachs flip. And no, that wasn’t the dodgy street food we had for lunch talking.
We wandered deeper into Shoreditch, agog at the sheer variety of styles expressed by street artists. To get noticed on the grand stage of East London, it seems these guys need to do more than throw some paint at a brick wall. Blackall Street is like Street Art’s answer to Fortnum and Mason. The works of fine-art-trained Parisian Alice flaunt their technicolour beauty alongside the subversive works of Mr Fahrenheit, dubbed London’s Mr Brainwash, Banksy’s co-star in Exit Through The Gift Shop.
It was on Christina Street where the art began to grow in scale – even our SLRs struggled to capture their grandeur. The walls are covered in visual dialogues between street artists like Milo Tchais and Malarky, showing off illustration alongside more futuristic and abstract pieces. The grand finale here though was an epic large scale production piece by Probs, giving a nod to Moebius, the French illustrator who passed earlier this year. We’re putty in the hands of anyone who can paint like this, and to work outside the law… c’mon, it makes it even better.
As the tour drew to a close on Hewlett Street, we felt like we’d taken several shots of inspiration. We like our Street Art funny, with a dollop of subversion on the side. And luckily, that’s exactly what London has on the menu. We’re champing at the bit to don our Deerstalkers and go on a Street Art hunt in other corners of the city. Hands up if you’re coming along!