While in London, we took a guided walking tour of London's East End to see the street art.
The tour group is called Alternative London and the tour guides are street artists themselves.
This is our guide and artist Ben:
I will try to explain, as best I can, some of the techniques, etc. of these examples of this amazing art genre. (The descriptions will precede each photo.)
This was a full size mural on the side of a building - what you see here is just one small section - approx 6 feet by 6 feet. It was a combination of spray paint with stencils and paste up printed art.
This was a section of delapidated brick wall about 2 stories high. This was made with stencils and spray paint. The artist and his wife work together. They will use over 20 stencils in a piece like this.
The next two are small, colorful sections of walls that featured many layers of art. One on top of the other. Much if it was hand painted. Some of it was paste up.
This was hand painted. To the right of the painting you can see the sketch of another work in progress. This was approx 3x5 feet.
I love this paste up. It is beginning to peel at the edges but you can still read the title in the lower left corner, "my dog sighs."
This is a combination paste up and spray paint - do you see that it says "ear" where her ears are?
This one is a combination of paste up and spray paint. I love how the paint has dripped down.
This is a good shot showing the scale of some of the work. This artist created an entire deep sea scene as a paste up and adhered it to the second story of this building. No easy task in the middle if the night.
This is a small stencil painting (about 2x2 feet). "Made in the Shade." All of this art goes up in the middle of the night - it is illegal (unless the artist has permission from the building owner) and the sentence is 2 yrs in jail.
This artist uses only spray paint in his creations. To get the special swirling pattern, he keeps his paint in buckets of ice. This thickens the paint and changes the texture.
This artist first plastered the side of the building and then came back several nights later to chisel out the plaster work. Apparently he used a jack hammer. Do you see the CCTV? He disabled it somehow while he did his work.
Ben was an awesome guide. He lives and works in the east end and was full of wonderful political opinion and historical perspective. As in many cities, gentrification is a threat to this diverse and unique neighborhood. High rises are moving in. Along with Starbucks and Subway. Pushing out the bagel shops and corner markets. It made me sad to know that in a few years all of this art might be gone - along with the artists. Ben said they're moving to other cities (Berlin for example). So interesting. We got to see a living breathing art movement in action. It was by far the BEST thing I saw and did in London. I highly recommend it.
I will end this post with a photo of Ben and one of his artworks in the background. He painted a portrait of a dear friend of his who has passed away. I don't remember the man's name, but he was a friend and mentor to many of the artists here. A bit of a rebel himself. Refusing to sell his building for redevelopment.