Leonard Street Car Park area Street Art Graffiti
Sunday 1st June 2014 was my first discovery of another location for street art aka graffiti in East London. I stumbled across it accidentally thanks to the white beacon of a giant figure by Stik on the wall of this derelict upholstery factory. I discovered it just in time because this week the demolition men have moved in and the site is being raised to the ground to make way for a new boutique hotel.
This post documents my 7 visits this summer (1st June – 31st July) to record the utterly amazing work that has been produced in a flurry of activity to celebrate street art in London before this spot is lost forever.
Ciro Schu 2014 mural Shoreditch – 1st visit on 1st June 2014
The day before my first visit I’d been online reading blogs and came across this post Ciro Schu returns to London Hookedblog. And it whetted my appetite to go and see the mural for myself. But I had no idea where it actually was and I was walking up Great Eastern Street that Sunday afternoon out of curiosity having spotted the giant Stik piece.
The hoardings up ahead in the photograph above also had some paintings on them. I recognised this next one as well from my Saturday night bedtime reading. I love the way the guys have also turned the junction boxes into giant speakers.
And immediately next to the cool DJ cats was this mural. I think its also by Tizer. Please let me know if I’m wrong and I’ll happily correct it.
The Ravey Street hoardings
I turned left around the corner onto Ravey Street and there I found my Ciro Schu mural plus many others. I’ve kept the photographs in the order that they appeared on the hoardings so that those of you unfamiliar with the area can follow the layout of work. This is a path that I will repeat as I document each visit because I enjoyed seeing the continuing changes to the same spot.
I love this geometric piece by Six1Six. This seems to be his only style but its very effective. And once you’ve spotted it, he pops up everywhere. And notice the gold variation to the right. That gold section remained for a long time after the main work was painted over.
And here is the new Ciro Schu mural that I had been looking for. I was particularly delighted to find it because I’d never been on Ravey Street before and this wasn’t where I thought it might be from the photograph on Hookedblog. Its a subtle piece which has a delicate beauty. The organic, woody shapes are typical of his style. Like Six1Six its the colour combinations that change. And in this way, I thought pairing these artists was a clever move.
The final panel on this section on Ravey Street is by one of the best known London street artists Pure Evil. And his gallery is around corner on Leonard Street. This is probably another reason why this area has an abundance of fabulous street art.
By this point I was on a street art safari, excited by the prospect of discovering what else might be around. I turned left again at the end of Ravey Street onto Leonard Street and saw these magnificent giant murals in the car park. Unfortunately it was closed so I could only take a few shots through the railings. In the end, this has turned out to be the clearest view I could record of the work without cars cluttering it.
Recording the artists from left to right. Cyrcle (upside down figure), Cept (dracula’s kiss), Run (b&w figure), Faith47 (Woman and dove) SatterUgly (man high up), Mysterious Al (Green monster)
And in this second shot you can see two more artists in addition to others listed above. Rone (giant woman’s face), Stik. Also note the wall below Rone’s face because that had changed for my second visit.
Leonard Street Car Park Street Art – 2nd visit on 24th June
Three weeks later, I was nearby documenting Cranio’s World Cup mural over on the Shoreditch Art Wall. So I dandered up Great Eastern Street to see if any work had changed since that first visit.
The first new mural was this geometric piece by Ripo whose work was also on show at Stolen Spaces Gallery on Osborn Street at the time.
In the next panel Six1Six had been replaced by this abstract artist Rodrigo Branco also from Brazil. Fellow Brazilian Ciro Schu’s mural was still there. Is there a World Cup theme going on?! And high up on the wall above was the giant flea, a new piece by ROA whose work was sharing the space with Ripo at Stolen Spaces Gallery.
As I approached the car park on Leonard Street, I saw that sombre black hoardings had replaced the white railings. What was going on? But this time the gate was open so I walked inside. There was another friendly tourist with a camera taking photos and we exchanged a few words.
The young man in the photograph below was the car park attendant. He called out to us and said, “get your pictures now. This places closes tomorrow. Its going to be pulled down.” And then he bragged about selling off various pieces and making lots of dosh. I suppose the area was always ripe for redevelopment but I felt quite upset. So I snapped all that I could see though the car park was very full.
In this photograph there is new work since my first visit three weeks before. Those cat type creatures were created by Pure Evil, as was the face to the left of the picture.
There were two pieces that demand that you look at them through their vibrant use of colour and striking images. The first is Time After Time by Cept. It was the last big piece to be painted here earlier this year. And it was painted in the knowledge that this area was being re-developed and that the space for street artists was going. The words from Joy Division’s song are deliberately apt.
The second piece that always caught my eye was Frankenstein’s Monster by Mysterious Al. His painful expression really spoke to me about the destruction of all this creativity and East London’s history.
From researching this post, I discovered that street art on these walls was relatively new. The very first piece only went up here in 2013. This delicate tender work by Faith47 from South Africa was painted here before the car park even existed. Hang Up gallery took some excellent photos for this piece London Welcomes Faith47. Do check out the link to see how stunning the mural is without cars and seen from high up.
SatterUgly, a Mexican artist, added the crouching skeletal man later.
This cheeky figure is by Himbad and was tucked out of sight behind the cars. I’ve since seen his creatures around Hackney Wick. He also does larger pieces and he’s just painted the Shoreditch Art Wall this week (1st Aug 2014).
The final piece I’ve documented is by the Italian artist Run.
3rd visit – 25th June 2014
Silly really with all the human destruction currently going on around the World that I should be upset about this work going but I am. And I was able to pop by the next day to see if any of it had been knocked down. It hadn’t. But I think this image is striking. You can see why I found Mysterious Al’s Monster so effective.
4th Visit – July 3rd 2014
I’d seen via twitter that Rodrigo Branco had replaced his first mural on Ravey Street with another more vibrant one. I stopped by for a snap and a peak around the corner to see what was still standing.
Around the corner and all the murals were still there. I spotted that the black hoardings had gained some adornment. A few paste up faces. Faces make very emotive images. These walls were communicating to us.
5th Visit – Weds 23rd July 2014
Nothing really changed around here until the weekend 19/20th July. In fact the whole of East London seemed to be alight with street painting then. The Whitecross Festival also took place that weekend. But via twitter on the Sunday, I saw that new work was going up on the Leonard Street car park hoardings. I was able to stop by on the Weds to take a look and I was stunned by how much had been done.
Starting again with Ravey Street. I haven’t discovered who painted these murals but they’ve all changed. I recognise a Himbad creature on the small side panel.
Do you remember Pure Evil’s Rhino in the dappled sunlight? I’m sure that one got sold. But on the hoarding which covers that spot is work by an artist which delights the child in me. David Selor is from France and his cute mice have sprung up all over Shoreditch this summer. This was the first one I spotted.
And when I turned the corner onto Leonard Street, I did not expect to gorge my eyes on all this range of work, colour and energy. That feeling of being alive just zapped my senses.
The first artist on the left is Pang, VLong is hard at work. Thieu painted the face. Hunto follows that.
I had a brief chat with the artist Vanesa Longchamp who is also from France. She told me that the work from Pang stretching away to my right was carried out by London based artists. And she also said that they always had permission to paint. And I’ve since found that Walls Project negotiate spaces for artists to paint in London.
At the far end of the hoardings, tucked around the corner was another artist hard at work. Amara Por Dios was putting the final touches to her gem. It was tucked away from this approach but its the first one you if you see if you begin viewing on Leonard Street.
I haven’t found all the artists names in the photograph below. But after Thieu’s face is a cubist figure by Hunto. And note, that Al’s Monster is still there!!
6th visit – Monday 28th July Mysterious Al’s demise.
Again, via twitter on Sunday, I saw that demolition notices had been pasted over some of the art work on the hoardings surrounding the car park. I couldn’t get there until after work that day but when I did, Al’s monster was gone!
I had really wanted to record his destruction. Instead, I share these reflections of his demise in the windows of the café opposite. On reflection (ha!), this trendy restaurant symbolises the change to the area which has caused Al’s Monster’s demise. Maybe this is a better picture than one of him being knocked down.
7th Visit – Thurs 31st July 2014
Little destruction seemed to have taken place 3 days later for my next visit. Only Run’s person was coming down slowly. The other pieces by Faith47, SatterUgly and Rone which you can see above will go. The developers will keep the street facade on Great Eastern Street which dates from the 19th Century but the rear walls will be gone.
On my 7th visit I discovered that I’d missed some of the new hoarding work at the front of the site on Great Eastern Street. For the last couple of visits I’d varied my approach with a short cut to Ravey Street. But I was excited by the riot of colour that greeted me from across the road.
Interesting to note that Tizer’s piece which was there back on 1st June 2014 is still there but with batons over it. Maybe it won’t be there much longer but 2 months is quite a record for these works. And you can see that ROA’s flea is now hidden under polythene and scaffolding.
Five days on from my last visit and the middle green panel is entirely new.
And David Selor’s mouse has a companion around the corner.
A brief shot of Run’s black and white face before its gone.
And a parting shot of all the faces that remain. The work in this area, more than any others I’ve documented has focused on the face, mostly of humans but also animals. They bring these inanimate walls to life, communicating to us. What stories could those walls have told about the history of London. And now they are lost to us.
My heartfelt thanks to all the amazing artists, credited and uncredited, who have turned this area is a space of joy, delight and wonder. Long may you paint and find other walls to entertain us.