Saturday, February 20th 2016
We started today’s tour in Shoreditch which we had briefly visited on Tuesday. We explored the back streets, finding some new and some old pieces of street art by some familiar names.
On the end of a building we found this giant floral heart by Waleska Nomura. It was quite difficult to photograph because of the angle of view and the fence partially obstructing the view. With a little jiggery pokery, I managed to capture the whole thing, though.
We discovered two pieces by Dscreet, known for his owls, often accompanied by text, wise old owls and wise sayings.
This not-quite-monochrome profile is by James Cochran aka JimmyC, known for his colourful portraits decorated with floating globes. His portrait of David Bowie, painted while the singer was still alive, became a focus of public remembrance on his death. (See here.)
This rather fairytale scene is the work of Zumi aka Marina Zumi.
This was a work that we had particularly wanted to see. Paintings by Sam Cox, aka the Doodle Man, are immediately recognizable. Like most street art paintings, his are usually flat but on this occasion, he has achieved a true walk-in work of art by painting the covered public walkway beside a building site.
This is not street art in the conventional definition but it is so in a sense because it appears in the street and it is definitely art! This is the doorway of the premises of J.W. Levy Safe Co. in Bethnal Green Road. There is a normal door in there, if you can find it, but it has been camouflaged within a representation of the door of a huge safe. It is a very striking and clever piece of work but I do not know the name of the artist.
This large-scale work resides in Sclater Street, a lively venue for street artists. It is by Caratoes, an artist hitherto unknown to me.
Also in Sclater Street is this collaborative work by Sizerone92 and Moys. The painting both intrigues and produces a frisson (in me, at any rate) and if that is the intention of the artists, then they utterly succeeded.
In nearby Rhoda Street is this powerful work by Jim Vision. An American Indian in traditional costume and headdress, carrying a US flag rather than the traditional lance, gallops across the field of view on a pony. In the background we see machinery indicative of the oil industry. The galloping figure is trailing fire and there are fires burning in the background. What is the meaning of this extraordinary image? Oil wells and fire evoke strong political vibrations. In the absence of an explanation from the artist, we will each form our own interpretation.
On the corner of Turville Street with Redchurch Street is another painting by Jim Vision. This one occupies the whole façade of a 4-story building. It returns to the theme of the American Indian. Here there are two braves, one mounted on a pony, both in traditional dress with native lances. They are observing the approach of a galleon under full sail. Their attitude is neither of excitement nor bewilderment, neither of fear nor wonder. It is as though they have witnessed this scene many times before. Their attitude could be resignation or boredom. We imagine that the clash of two cultures would be a momentous noisy affair but this image recalls to my mind the famous refrain in T.S. Eliots’s The Hollow Men: ‘This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.’
Our third and final piece of art involving Jim Vision was found in Old Nichol Street and it was done in collaboration with Martin Ron. A galleon, with all sails unfurled, is on fire and being lifted from the sea by a giant hand. Whose hand? Is it the hand of God? There is no clue. Is it the same ship that the Indians were watching in the previously shown image? We don’t know. Street art is part of the furniture and is often damaged, removed or obstructed by other objects. You will find an uncluttered view here.
In an entirely different vein, how about this clever little piece found near the end of Redchurch Street:
The wall on which this small painting resides is perfectly flat. The apparent alcove, the little man balancing precariously on his tightrope, making his way from one tunnel to the other, the contrast of light and shadow, all that is conjured up by the artist on a flat surface. It is a subtle, jewel-like piece of work. Unfortunately, I do not know the artist’s name.
We now took a bus to Waterloo Station as we wanted to visit the Graffiti Tunnel aka Leake Street that is beside the station. Once a street joining York Road with Station Approach and passing under the station through a tunnel, Leake Street has been closed to traffic and turned over to the street artist community. We decided to go in by the entrance in Station Approach and on the way passed a building on whose wall we spotted the above sight. I don’t know whether there really was a ventilator grill here that has been closed off or whether the whole thing is a made object. Either way, the result is an intriguing and amusing little work of art. It appears to be a ventilator grill with someone poking his fingers through it. Is he trying to get out, call for help, or what? You choose.
When we turned to Leake Street itself, we found the place buzzing. I have not seen it so busy before, particularly the open section which I photographed above.
There were artists, singly or in groups, sightseers (including us!) and even the odd interview taking place. Works were being sketched out or filled in. The air was thick with the smell of spray can propellant.
Needless to say, every square inch of wall surface is painted over and there is competition for space. But this is a tunnel along most of its length so there is also a ceiling that can be used! After all, if Michelangelo can do it, why not today’s artists?
This portrait is one of the works currently on the ceiling. It is unsigned and I don’t know who the artist is.
In contrast, this ceiling portrait of a young woman wearing a face mask (she is presumably an artist captured in the throes of her work) is signed by Olivier Roubieu. It is beautifully done and has attracted a lot of notice.
We had a good look around but were a little disappointed because, apart from the items mentioned, there wasn’t much that impressed us. However, with so many people on site either working or preparing to do so, I am sure that on our next visit there will be some masterpieces to admire!