Street Art Photography Group Show feat Alex Ellison, Cheff031, Delete08, Doug Sherman, HowAboutNo, Ian Cox, Joe Epstein, Mark Rigney, Myriam JC Preston, NoLionsInEngland, Unusualimage
Curated by Esther F. Castelo
Fun Factory at Top Office Machines, 133-135 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 7DG
25 April – 19 May 2013
Email funfactory at gmail dot com to confirm opening hours
All photos (of photos!): NoLionsInEngland
This may seem like a vigorous puffing of one’s own wind instrument but with 2 out of 3 of Graffoto’s photographer-writers in the show and in support of the fantastic effort by Esther F Castelo to conceive and curate this show, and anyway we post what the hell we like on our own blog, here’s our take on the Fun Factory’s pop up Take To The Streets photography show.
Two contrasting approaches to the artist-at-work shot face off against eachother on opposing brick walls. Cheffo1 is a fellow VNA magazine photo contributor, his photos certainly show a leaning towards strong colour and half of his quartet show a liking for work-in-progress shots of the artists in action.
On the opposite wall, Texan Doug Sherman’s delicious mounted-but-not-framed images are split between massive top-to-bottom building mural and a trio of close up artist-in-action shots which tantalisingly reveal neither the artwork nor the artist, though not many will fail to figure out which Whitehouse botherer is laying down the letters in the middle shot.
Doug said this about his selection of photos for this show:
“They mainly focus on two subjects that i really enjoy shooting which is the artist at work as i am very interested in the process of creating the work sometimes even more so than the final piece. The other is the piece in its new environment and how it interacts with everything else and how everything else interacts with it.”
Joe Epstein captures long walls and halls of fame in a signature joiner style. 6 panoramic shots arranged ladder style make Jo’s presentation a hugely effective and eye-catching display of energetic graff.
My favourites – and I know this was the case for many – were Myriam JC Preston’s shots from her car. Since I first came across them on Flickr I’ve loved the unique perspective her “can’t be arsed to get out of the car” approach brings to framing these shots. Myriam had this to say about her selection:
“I chose six of my favourite photographs from the last couple of years, not the most popular with other people, simply ones which resonate with me on a deep level. The similarity they all have with one another is that within each one the focus is not on the art but rather on what is going on in the surrounding environment or what is contrasting with the art (which is clear with the 30 years of British Graff image and also the Dan Kitchener piece) and also on the impact and statement these elements make.”
Delete08 is committed to a harder, grittier form of art photography. Knowing Delete08 well, I know that he cherishes the mission as much as if not more than the photographic end result. Delete frequently finds ways over walls and fences into yards and tunnels and his edgy selection of photographs comes from a kind of location that not many of the Brick Lane audience will have been privy to.
Ian Cox is the doyen of urban art photographers with a long pedigree of contributing to the scene and can be considered, I guess, in-house photographer for the Lazarides stable. His signature (now that the novelty of that bloody fish-eye has worn off 😉 ) is the sharp focus and narrow depth-of-field shot of the artist at work. I love the way the shot of Juice 126, taken on Agent Of Change’s seminal Ghost Town Project is out of focus by half way down the artist’s arm and the background is more colour wash than paint stains.
The stand out quality of Ian’s work over many years has earned him many exciting trips, he is a photographer that graffiti writer’s and artists trust to deliver the photographs AND not betray a confidence. Shooting both legal and illegal artistic endeavours around the World is second nature to Ian but the image that struck me as being the most imaginative and unique was his shot of the Kings Cross Megaro Hotel “Marmite” mural, again by Agents Of Change. Here is Ian’s synopsis of how he came to realise this shot:
“With such a huge production it was really hard to find the right vista without the picture being cluttered with corporate logos or other distractions. Armed with a long lens and ladder we blagged our way through station security and set up on the bridge above the platforms. I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable being perched above the rails on a ladder on a bridge but it was the only way to get the right perspective through the window. “
Seeing the shot – that’s what makes the difference.
Alex Ellison has possibly the most single minded determination to devote every breath available to photographing street art and graffiti. Its not just the easy accessible Shoreditch/West End stuff he chases, he is genuinely all-city and indeed all-UK in his chase after preferrably illegal graff and art. One aspect Alex has mastered is the reflection and among his three images is this Malarky cracker.
Fellow blogmate and companion for many hundreds of photography walks over the best part of a decade HowAboutNo always has a natural leaning towards highly colourful images. His varied quartet shows a Cept (his pics often do!), an unusual angle, a person perambulating through the shot and a lot of texture and colour.
As for my own photos, in the words young Master Nolions whispered to Lady NoLions “Dad’s got better photos than these!”. Punchy criticism from the mouths of babies but he’s confusing a picture that is more interesting to me with a picture showing great street art. This canal photo is framed to capture just the reflection, the writing isn’t special, the location totally unremarkable, the artwork itself isn’t even in the shot but it’s just the idea of inverting the reality then not giving a clue to the original that got this shot in.
This small C215 cat was on the side of a wall mounted bin, the idea behind the photo is a simple bit of playing with scale with the oversize cat appearing to stalk the dude with the pink umbrella.
Mark Rigney stands out as the longest time served of street art photographer’s present. His selection also favours the artist-at-work shot, a roller action shot in the tunnels behind Leake street proving particularly evocative of a mood while an inspired choice of metallic paper for his Canalside photo lends vibrancy to a very colourful scene. My favourite among Mark’s photos is the shot of Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada in action, both for its almost surreal juxtaposition of scales and for focussing on a detail rather than showing us the full work.
Three of Unusualimage’s four shots – the Jimmy Cauty and the two Specter pieces – go deep into high-concept street art. The Jimmy Cauty Old Street mirror piece aka Tra toN Si sihT dates from May 08 and remains my all time favourite piece of street art and I think that “mirror” shot is possibly the single shot that merits the most “thinking” about.
This show had the tragic possibility of bringing together a bunch of indistinguishable photographers snapping generic shots of street art in a manner that had no more intrigue and appeal that a google image result for street art pics. What actually transpires is that each photographer brought a different perspective, a different eye and a wide variety of distinctive takes on how to view street art to the party. Each then framed the photographs to their own preferred style and indeed hung them differently which combined with the variety of wall surfaces in Fun Factory’s pop up space makes this an interesting and varied show. At the time of writing, there is still a week left for the show to run and is well worth making the effort to see.
Over 400 folk milled around the space on the opening night. As a participant, I owe huge thanks to Esther for masterminding AND keeping her patience with her unruly and very tardy not to say sometimes rude posse of photographers, and to Roberto for tons of work in setting up the space. Mark Rigney did a great job on flyer design and general social media manipulation, while Aida pulled some beautiful screen prints of the show poster – hopefully one will magic its way into my possession some time! The opening night went with a swing thanks to crates of Desperadoes beer. We also owe thanks for the space to Kevin and Ed at OriginalContentLondon.com, cheers dude. Shout to Garfield at the Birdcage pub, Columbia road for a great after-show party which saw some serious rug cutting to 3 DJs and pub price alkyhol.
*other photographers are available