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.
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.