Swoon Scene in London

Photos: NoLionsInEngland (who is slightly peeved that blogger is trimming the right hand edges of landscape pics so that central elements shift to the right and important info is not visible. Click through landscape pics to see the original image)

Swoon was recently in London combining the installation of her part of the Small Acts of Resistance show at Black Rat Press with leaving a few pieces on the street.

A few years back, Swoon left some stunners on the streets of London.

Coronet St filigree

Girl From Ranoon

Both of those ran for a long long time and for me they never became invisible background, I never ever got bored of seeing them.

In those days the buff was a council employee and he told me one morning that he could see those Swoon pieces were things of beauty, though he had no idea they were “Swoon”, and he said he’d never buff those.

This photographed in late 07 but was definately there in 2006, the grain of the woode hoarding has cut into the paper and lent a gentle curving wash to the art.

This time round Swoon has put up 4 street paste ups, at least, that’s how many we have found. More knowledgable Swoon spotters have opined that these four new images haven’t been seen before which is cool for us locals.

This first one saw her returning to Blackall St, location of the Girl from Rangoon at the top. Blackall Street these days is a noisy battered alleyway with generally mediocre but occasionally adequate paste ups, Swoon’s piece is sort of jostling for elbow room in the crowd and that optical bedlam just doesn’t allow the piece to interact in any meaningful way with its environment, you probably need to know that the boy is gazing at some non-descript two storey offices opposite.

Swoon 2010, Boy from Haiti?

The last piece Graffoto found (well, HowAboutNo) sits in a very nice spot, I love the way the more delicate transluscent sort of paper Swoon has used here allows the colour of the two columns of London brick to seep through. Again he is scrutinising a fairly dull brick built office. Perhaps staring at places of work is the theme for this autumn’s street collection.

Swoon 2010

Like the one above, this third one sits in a nice location and has awesome levels of detail within the art.

The final piece sits a little off the beaten track but not too far from Black Rat. The grainy detail pasted to the wall and even in the textures of the brick itself really captures a weathered and ancient face. When you look at the amount of detail in the close-up you can really appreciate the astonishing intricacy of the paper doily, not to mention how tricky it must be to paste that kind of work to the wall. The pipe at the bottom of the wall looks like it is meant to be a meaningful addition to the composition or at least provide some kind of context for the portrait but we just can’t figure out what.


A much more knowledgable Swoon spotter (sorry – can’t remember who otherwise they would get a shout here) has said they believe the new images in London haven’t been seen on the street before, which is cool for us.

The Black Rat Press group show is constructed around the theme of how substantial change can be created by individual un-sung and small scale acts of protest or activism. With each of the artists there really was a sense that the despair, isolation and suppressed individual was fully explored but little sense of what they could or would achieve through individual action, on the whole they look like they remain oppressed. Other than Peter Kennard whose wall looked like the kind of high altitude panorama shot we used to see on the news from a camera mounted in the nose of a ship-to-shore missile.

Swoon, Know Hope, Armsrock, Matt Small, Peter Kennard, Dotmaster

Swoon’s top-to-bottom whole wall piece starts promisingly enough on the left with a single child sitting on land with a blasted tree and wooden hut in the background, the scene pans across a set of steps, with a distant village in the background, is he being invited up the steps? The image just sort of petters out to the right into indecipherable contemporary box buildings, broken signage and pieces of pasted paper. It seems to speak of the plight of orphaned children following the earthquake in Haiti, it’s not too clear.

Close up the layers of newsprint paper build up into the background and the image of the child is beautiful but the sense remains that we are not seeing Swoon at her gallery best.

Previous show outings in London include her favella contribution in BRP’s launch show Heaped in 2007 with David Ellis and Monica Canilao, followed later by a significant, beautiful and cleverly staged train carriage panorama at Leonard St’s Urban Sprawl show

Swoon, Urban Sprawl, 2007

Photographs of Swoon shows from New York and elsewhere show that Swoon can transform spaces and create stunning wonderlands of filigree and portraits. Her work in her London shows has tended to leave us feeling a little short changed, fingers crossed that sometime we get a fully fledged solo show fit to blow our socks off.

Show continues at BRP until 30 November 2010 – update errrr, the BRP artist bios at the show says 30th, a BRP emails says 26th. They ought to know or perhaps just like to keep you guessing

0 replies on “Swoon Scene in London”

Except for the young boy, all the images have been on the street before, although I think that papercut was only at FAME, so a lot more people will be walking by it in London. And the boy image was used Juxtapoz' recent project in Detroit, but I don't think that really counts as the street.

The image of the young boy is (I think) based on a boy in Kabwe, Zambia.

Yeah, Swoon's installation at BRP doesn't hold a candle to her solo show in Paris from a few weeks ago. That looked amazing. Though keep in mind I'm basing all those thoughts on photos. Not been to either show in person unfortunately.

Yes, the portrait of swoon's father has been seen numerous times on the streets before..

Never seen the kid or the piece that looks like an elbow-toe before though.

Mike – cheers, thanks. I concur about the ease of confusing with Elbow-Toe, when I first saw it I thought it was ET until I looked closely at the detail in the lower half which left little doubt it was a Swoon. Did you see them at Fame? Since RJ's comment I found a pic online of the cut paper figure done in a kind of church window/alter setting at Fame and it made me wonder even more about the soil pipe being just an accident of the location

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