Photo Essays

A Photographic Tour of London’s Art-Filled Streets

The British capital continues to be a playground for artists who use the walls as their canvas.

Work by London-based Italian painter ALO, whose small, detailed outdoor works are painted directly onto walls and surfaces

Last July, I spent two weeks in London documenting its street art and graffiti scene, my first return visit since 2009. I’d been warned by a number of people that I wouldn’t recognize the city. Yet the plethora of construction cranes and hoardings on the one hand, and shiny, new, glass towers on the other, were views I found very familiar. Much like New York, my home of the past 19 years, London is being aggressively redeveloped. The plummeting availability of affordable housing and systemic loss of studio space were frequent topics of conversation, anxieties only compounded by the uncertainty left in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Yet the streets seemed vibrant as ever, offering up a heady mix of small-scale, unsanctioned works in a variety of mediums, eye-catching graffiti, as well as a noticeably expanded offering of vibrant murals. As in many metropolises worldwide, the art on London streets reflects a melting pot of local and international talents. I was pleased to encounter works by British artists such as Remi Rough, Shok1, Mobstr, and Sweet Toof, to name but a few, alongside visiting New York stalwarts Dan Witz and Jordan Seiler. Discovering the geometrical graffiti of Goodchild and delicate, brass sculptural installations by Jonesy were highlights of the visit. And no visit to London would be complete without tracking down an elusive Banksy.

In this 2011 stencil in Mayfair, Banksy comments on “shop til you drop” consumer culture.
As part of his Breathing Room series, New York artist Dan Witz installed a number of meditating figures on the sides of London’s iconic red phone booths.
Remi/Rough’s version of Franceschini’s “Guardian Angel” for the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery, in which artists reinterpreted works owned by the Dulwich Picture Gallery
A wall in an abandoned lot in Hackney Wick bearing the geometric works of graffiti artist Goodchild
Street artist Jonesy installs small, intricate cast metal sculptures.
An ad takeover by New York artist Jordan Seiler temporarily covers a bank of fly-posted advertisements in Shoreditch.
Colorful abstract mural by German graffiti artist MadC, employing her signature swathes of color
Mobstr is known for his tongue in cheek, text-based stencils and installations.
Spanish artist Pejac plays with shoes on a wire, flipping the meme on its head.
Belgian artist Roa’s London menagerie includes birds, hedgehogs, rabbits … and rats.
Shok1’s MasterPeace mural, in his signature x-ray style, is a response to the UK’s Brexit vote and the hostilities against immigrants it has inspired.
French street artist Space Invader comments on the proliferation of CCTV cameras throughout London.
Sweet Toof’s instantly recognizable ruff neck character adorns a wall along a section of the River Lea.
Mark McClure’s mural for Walthamstow’s Wood Street Walls project is a mosaic comprised of painted, reclaimed wood.

Luna Park’s first book, (Un)Sanctioned: The Art on New York Streets, highlighting 10 years of New York City street art, ad takeovers, and graffiti, was recently released by UK publisher Carpet Bombing Culture (it includes an introduction by Hyperallergic Editor-in-chief Hrag Vartanian). Luna Park will be speaking at the New York Public Library’s Mid-Manhattan branch on January 30 at 6:30pm.

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