Diary of a street art lover: 2 days on the street art trail
Last week I tracked down so much street art that I thought “a behind the scenes” post would be fun. If any of you thought, ‘autumn’ and ‘long dark evenings’ means that the scene will die down, well you’re wrong. Its as busy as ever. And on top of that there are new galleries opening up to exhibit the work of these artists.
Unusually that week I had two full days to devote entirely to street art. As it was Halloween I had to see Death in Dalston at the new BSMT gallery in, yes you’ve guessed it, Peckham. No of course it was in Dalston, only kidding. But I had an invite to Peckham that evening for a Halloween party at Tom’s Etching studio. Then I had to decide if I could cover the Clet Abrahams show over in West London plus there was all the new local street art continually going up here in East London. Damn you social media for tantalising me like this.
Friday 30th October 2015: Afternoon, ‘Death in Dalston‘
Normally I love the buzz of a private view. The PV for this show had been on Wednesday and the number of guests had to be limited. So I realised that I wouldn’t get any decent photographs of the work if I went then. And from the previews on Instagram it looked really good! My first opportunity to go was Friday afternoon and I had planned to feature the exhibition for a Halloween post. That was before I had the invite to Tom’s Etching Studio Halloween party down in South London.
The gallery space is small but as I was the only visitor that afternoon it felt spacious. And I was in luck because one of the exhibition curators, Greg, aka Speckles was there. And not only did he help me get the best photos I could, we also spent ages discussing our love of street art and swapping stories. The exhibition itself was really imaginative and far less morbid than I expected. Full post on it will follow. And I’m sure I’ll be a regular visitor to BSMT, especially as its almost on my doorstep.
By the time I left BSMT I realised that I didn’t have enough time to check out the new work in Shoreditch because the light was fading. Maybe artists can paint in the dark but most street art looks better in daylight. I might be able to get there on Saturday.
Friday 30th October 2015, evening. Tom’s Etching Studio Halloween Party
Whilst not strictly a street art event, it was because of my love and blog posts on this subject that I’d been invited to a lino printing session held in September for art bloggers. That had been one of the best nights out in ages and with six total strangers as well. With so much to blog recently I hadn’t found the time to write about this new art space. So I thought I would check out their party which offered a live printing event. And write a combined post about both visits.
Saturday 31st October 2015, Morning. Clet Abrahams hunting in West London
I’ve always loved graphic art and design. When I first saw a Clet Abraham twist on the UK no-entry road sign, I felt delighted inside: in the way that you did when as small child you saw an adult do something naughty. And the variations he comes up with are so clever. They make me both laugh and stop to think.
I’d already tracked down 12 new designs that he created two weeks earlier along Brick Lane in East London. And thanks to an excellent post on London Calling Blog, I knew there were 12 more new designs to find over on Portobello Road. Of course I had to make the trip West to find them and see his show. What I hadn’t factored into this visit was the crowded Saturday market on Portobello Road. Its is worse than Brick Lane for stalls and visitors when you’re simply passing through. Its excellent if you fancy a slow mooch around but not good if you’re a woman on a street art mission.
All started well and I found the first three easily. I was especially pleased to find the Adonis because it looked so good online.
As I weaved my way through the multitude, I spotted this shop of street signs which fitted the theme of my day well. And I paused to take a snap.
I had to be very firm with myself not to get side tracked into photographing all the shoppers. It was an aladdin’s cave for street photography that afternoon.
I only found 5 of the 10 new Clet’s on Portobello Road. I’m not sure if I missed them due to the sheer volume of people. But I did find one that London Calling Blog had not spotted.
The remaining 2 to find on my list were much further away, so next I popped into the exhibition at Graffik Gallery which is also on Portobello Road. Its a tiny space and initially seeing the signs away from the street and on the wall was an anti-climax. But when I spotted signs and images that I’d never seen before, my spirits rose and I really enjoyed getting to know his work better.
My mind boggled at the prices though – well over £2500 each. I think they were nearer £3K. Still for a mere 60p I bought my own piece of Clet art – a sticker.
I was feeling a little weary now as I trudged over to Crowthorne Road, not quite sure how to get there as it was hard to spot on my A-Z. Yes, I’m perverse like that, still loving a printed map. But I spotted this on Cambridge Road!
By this point, I’d seen so many of these road sign images that it was like seeing stars. My inner radar, tuned to Clet, zoomed in on the red border with a figure falling. Its so almost is a Clet that I recorded it too.
When I finally reached Crowthorne Road I was delighted to find a treasure trove of street art there. So this was why these two works were so far away! But where were they now? I’d already seen photographs of them online and they were not at the spot they were supposed to be!! This is what I found instead. One very fresh looking no-entry sign. And not the 2 redesigned ones, on either side of the car park exit, from our man, Clet.
Remembering the high prices of the work in the gallery, I now wonder if they were nicked. Along with the other five I couldn’t find on Portobello Road. I maybe wrong but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Still I snapped lots of other great street art while I was there, including this massive, powerful mural from Zina.
Saturday 31st October 2015 Afternoon, Back in Shoreditch
My time for hunting street art is limited at the moment, so I knew I had to head back to Shoreditch and catch the work around Great Eastern Street area in particular, or it might be gone. We are so spoilt at the moment by artists from around the world descending on London to share their magic.
I then returned to Brick Lane to try and snap the new Saki and Bitches work without the Sunday street market blocking my view of it. Again no joy because a van was now parked directly in front of it. But I rather like this shot I took anyway.
And then I spotted a new classic mural by Dscreet on the other side of the road. You see what I mean. Its hard to keep up.
The sun was sinking now as it was after 3pm. And I still had some other new Clet designs in East London to find, around Spitalfields. I urged myself on to track them down. I found two on my list, including this one which I thought was one of my missing works from Portobello Road. And I love this cheeky pigeon design. Maybe it was a homing pigeon and it had flown back East 😉
Once I was home, I re-read the post from London Calling Blog and I realised that these other East London ones weren’t new work but old ones which were included in the roundup. And the cheeky pigeon had never flown further than Brick Lane.
Don’t worry Greg at BSMT and Jenny at Tom’s Etching Studio, I will write up posts on your excellent events very soon. Thanks for being such great hosts. And important thanks also to London Calling Blog for blazing a trail on searching for street art. I enjoy following in your slip-stream.