Borondo on Hanbury Street. Image credit: Peter McGowan
One of the most exciting things about street art is its ongoing experimentation, especially in how it plays with method and material. And the results are continually evolving, on the streets of East London, for everyone to see. For example, on a recent Insider London street art tour, I discovered a great piece by Borondo on Hanbury Street. The artist had apparently asked the permission of a new shop-owner to etch a face into the whitewashed window of his shopfront. I suspect this piece may last a while – for a money transfer company, this is a far better attention grabber than a view of a bare counter and linoleum. Above Borondo’s etching is another great piece: some fabulous underwater creatures by French artist Lily Mixe, who pastes her intricate paper sketches onto walls.
On a wall behind a car park on Sclater street, look closely and you will see – behind some newer work – one remaining leg of a skeleton painting. The tatty remains of some newspaper pasted to the wall by the leg are a clue to the original work, which depicted a homeless man lying under newspaper. But being actual newspaper, over the course of the subsequent weeks, the rain washed it away to reveal the painted man to be in skeletal form.
Vhils street art on Hewett Street, London
Of course, this diversity of materials is not a wholly new phenomenon. Ronzo the Credit Crunch monster-maker has been sticking his plaques and embossed monsters on walls all over the place since 2008. Then there’s the famous Banksy and D*Face cars round the back of the Old Truman Brewery. A big-pixel, 80s-style Luke Skywalker has been fighting it out with Darth Vader on a car park wall on Scrutton Street for some years now, all thanks to a crafty bit of tile mosaic by Space Invader. Before you accuse this artist of striving for permanence, it should be said that he is keen on brevity, too. I read recently that he’d carved his trademark invader into the sole of his shoe, before walking through puddles in Paris to create tiny bespoke prints made in the puddle water on dry paving that the sun would extinguish in a matter of minutes. And then there’s Vhils, who likes to use drills. If you haven’t already been, check out the extraordinary giant face that he carved out of a wall on Hewett Street.
Spotted on Chance Street, Shoreditch
Today, I came across something entirely different, though: three large mirrors embedded in a charcoal black wall on Chance Street. I tried to conjure the image of this undercover act of wall-mounting vandalism. I couldn’t see any fixings but the mirrors were set into – and almost flush with – the wall. Had they re-plastered and painted the entire side of the building as well? Did the same artists create the huge and colourful work on the opposite wall? Depending on where you stand of course, different parts of this painting are neatly captured, like framed paintings, by the mirrors.
On a smaller scale, enmeshed into a fence beneath those ubiquitous lovers’ padlocks by the entrance to Shoreditch Overground, were four squares of woven fabric, depicting a heart-shape. This is an idea that has gained such currency that even Chipping Norton has its own ‘yarn-bomber’, who creates tiny knitted bees on lamp-posts and fences all over the Oxfordshire village. My partner was given one such bee by the bomber herself, an elderly lady who wishes to remain anonymous. With my recent explorations of Shoreditch in mind, only now do I realise she’s a modern street artist working with her chosen form, just like any other: diverse and undercover . . .
Want to know more? Come and join us on one of our London Street Art & Graffiti tours. Due to the ever-changing nature of London’s street art scene, the walking tour is different every time. You never know what you might discover.