From Shoreditch to Leake Street

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.

Art by Waleska Normura
Waleska Nomura

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.

Art by Dscreet Art by Dscreet

We discovered two pieces by Dscreet, known for his owls, often accompanied by text, wise old owls and wise sayings.

Art by JimmyC

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.)

Art by Zumi

This rather fairytale scene is the work of Zumi aka Marina Zumi.

Art by the Doodle Man
Sam Cox aka the Doodle Man

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.

Door of J.W. Levy Safe Co.
Door of J.W. Levy Safe Co.

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.

Art by Caratoes

This large-scale work resides in Sclater Street, a lively venue for street artists. It is by Caratoes, an artist hitherto unknown to me.

Art by Sizeron92 and Moys
Art by Sizeron92 and Moys Art by Sizeron92 and Moys
Sizeron92 and Moys

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.

Art by Jim Vision
Jim Vision

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.

Art by Jim Vision
Art by Jim Vision
Jim Vision

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.’

Art by Jim Vision and Martin Ron
Jim Vision and Martin Ron

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:

Trompe-l'œil painting, artist unknown
Trompe-l’œil painting, artist unknown

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.

Art by Unknown

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.

Leake Street open section
Leake Street open section

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.

Work in progress
Work in progress

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.

Leake Street ceiling
Leake Street ceiling

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?

Art on Leake Street ceiling
Art on Leake Street ceiling

This portrait is one of the works currently on the ceiling. It is unsigned and I don’t know who the artist is.

Art by Olivier Roubieu
Olivier Roubieu

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.

Artist at  work
Artist at work

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!

Leake Street, general view
Leake Street, general view

Copyright © 2016 SilverTiger,, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to From Shoreditch to Leake Street

  1. WOL says:

    Another interesting collection of street art. The quotation on the two Dscreet owl paintings are song lyrics. The left is “Symptom of the Universe” by Black Sabbath, and the other one is “Break on Through” by the Doors. For favorites, it’s a tough choice between the Levy Safe sign and the fingers in the ventilator grill. I might be willing to bet that Caratops is a ginger. (carrot top)

    • SilverTiger says:

      Thanks for identifying the sources of Dscreet’s pieces of text. Not being a fan of pop music, I wouldn’t have known. I am aware that much street art, being done predominantly by young people, refers to that genre.

      The safe door is certainly a wonderful novelty. We saw it again yesterday and it hadn’t lost any of its charm. The ventilator grill is a good example of the amusing whimsically often observed in street art.

  2. Brilliant stuff. Bit deprived down here ‘on the edge’ in Bexhill. Your work makes me believe that despite the ‘public press’ there really still is intelligent life in England.

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