We pass them everyday. They have different names. We use them to move from one place to another and they help us to find our right destination. They are busy, noisy, and sometimes really smelly and dirty. Often we can find on their pavements many things; coins, leftover foods or cigarette stubs… They are everywhere. The Streets. However, I recently realized that they are in fact a living contemporary art gallery that is constantly changing.
Earlier this week I joined one small group to discover street art in Shoreditch, London. It was a rainy day, but this could not curb my enthusiasm and curiosity regarding this form of art. Holding an umbrella in one hand and camera in the other I started to compile a photographic report of my tour.
When we arrived at Blackall Street, I found many different types of works; this resembles a small Mecca for graffiti and street art, where artists have brought life and colour to the old and dilapidated walls. Here I saw artists such as 07606, whose drawings feature iconic individuals like Marilyn Monroe. Another well-known artist on the walls of Shoreditch is Stik, with his very simple characters, full of expression, made only using thick black lines. On Great Eastern Street I found more street artists like, ROA and ALO – artists who were inspired by American Jean-Michel Basquiat. HUNTO, whose colorful works were for me very similar to some of Picasso’s paintings, and then there was Otto Shade. Works made by the iconic Banksy could also be seen on Rivington Street, near Cargo bar. I also discovered small pieces of art made by Ben Wilson, whose works are made on chewing gum, then stuck to the pavement. They are very small and difficult to spot but I was lucky!
Street art is not only graffiti, posters or stickers, it also includes sculptures and reliefs. I was especially impressed when I found many sculptures on the roofs or walls of buildings; Christiaan Nagel’s colorful mushrooms are a wonderful example to look out for.
My tour took only two hours, but I was stunned by the huge amount of works that I encountered in Shoreditch. I haven’t realized that street art could be so vivid, rich and varied. The only thing, which saddened me, was that most of these works are temporary. They can be destroyed by the weather, or their walls could be demolished, or become the canvas for another piece of art.
I have decided to do many more tours like this one and take as many photos of street art as I can. Who knows, maybe one day my photos will be the last anyone sees of some of these very interesting and accomplished pieces. I will never look at The Streets the same way, and in my mind, they have now become the world’s biggest contemporary art gallery.