Undoubted star of the London street art scene this year was Spanish artist Borondo. Among a series of great pieces the stand out has to be the upside down canalside face in Hackney Wick, a gem of site specific dynamic art. With just the right wind, a gentle slop of the water surface results in a face whose lips mouth words silently and eyes that wink at you, pure genius.
Working with a bunch of wooden planks found among the fly tipped materials lying in a car park, XO from Amsterdam produced a striking collage of wood grain and plank colours, topped with geometric string art. With a high novelty value quotient this was one of my favourite pieces this year.
Italian visitor Luis Gomez painted at least three great murals in Shoreditch this year though the real stand out was his Narcissus, many folk missed his deft use of the different surface of the base of the “flower bed” to create the reflection of this vain creature.
Sell Out kept up a solid output of butterflies and sculptures throughout the year, with many visitors taking home a souvenir of Shoreditch’s street art courtesy of Sell Out’s blu-tacked butterflies. Some do find the way he imposes his art onto other people’s work rude or disrespectful but we have no problem with it, street art is ripe for modification and interaction the moment the artist leaves the wall (but not before!).
As always lot of great stickers have appeared throughout Shoreditch, we loved this burst of fiendish colour brought to lampposts by Steek and Arrex.
Street artist and gallerist Pure Evil embarked on a mission to create a piece of street art on the streets whereever he happened to be every day for 365 days. A number of his pieces were commemorative including tributes to Kieth Haring, JFK and Robbo and the work became highly personal and poignant with the sad loss of his father to cancer during the year.
Another artist from abroad who stayed to make a big contribution was Furia ACK from Portugal. His first chalk and charcoal portraits were the very definition of ephemeral as rain eroded and softened the chalk highlights. He then specialised in people’s heroes usually connected to a defining moment of historical change where oppressed people asserted a wish to be free from despotic tyranny. More recently he has moved on to icons of female power.
Another artist on a political bent was HKG, addressing social politics, geo politics and environmental politics, it all boils down to them and us, and greed.
We saw a number of conscience driven activist art campaigns during the year. Masai’s endangered species slant on environmentalism crystalised in two campaigns, the first raising awareness of the consequences of bee wipeout and the second in conjunction with the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Animals) and Synchronicity Earth highlighted the perils of endangered species in the UK.
Sadly no year is complete without its fallen soldiers and this year saw the London graffiti and street art community mourn two significant losses. Robbo WRH WD PFB succumbed after a 3 years in a coma to injuries sustained in an accident. Palpable grief was expressed not just throughout the London graff brotherhood but worldwide with many writers paying tribute on walls dedicated to King Robbo.
Street artist BEN NAZ fought a hugely courageous battle against cancer, appearing at his solo show just weeks prior to his death when it was already known that the battle had been lost. He created a considerable amount of stencilled imagery in the past year or so before his sad departure.
The roaming spraycan art festival Meeting Of Styles returned to Shoreditch this year and produced some stunning permissioned murals, all technically exceptional and stunning to look at, probably defined by this signature wall on Network Rail property.
One of the more controversial episodes this year involved a small number of youths paint bombing a portrait collaboration by Edwin and Josh. The youths contended that the face portrait, painted as a highly stylised pair of eyes and a nose across three shutters signified a one-eyed devil. Of course, nothing could really have been further from the truth of the artists’ or the shutter owner’s intentions. Community censorship appeared to strike Saki and Bitches mildy eroticised geisha girls, and an image of a seating nude female by Benjamin Murphy had only the tape parts which defined the lady’s feminine charms buffed. Shoreditch has a significant Muslim population.
Augmented reality technology came to the streets of Shoreditch for the first time courtesy of INSA’s Cycle of Futility, INSA’s Gif-iti Viewer, an iPhone app, replaces the static mural with the animated version of the artwork when viewed through the phone on the street. You can get a weak proxy to the experience by downloading the app and pointing it at the static photo in this blog post. Amaze your friends!
A curious population of sweet little bug eyed creatures exploded all over Shoreditch this year courtesy of Noriaki and boy do we love them. No corner is too dark or dank or remote for these unobtrusive people, they remind me of the way Monsieur Andre’s character populated Paris or even Banksy’s rats in the middle of the last decade.
Because the night …belongs to artists, night time photography has produced a number of fun and pleasing photographs which are included here just because we can
For a slightly quirkier look at some of the great art created on Shoreditch streets in 2014, there is a slideshow of the finished versions of some of the street art the Shoreditch Street Art Tour came across during their creation, click here.
We’d love to include a shed load more highlights but the quantity of art and the number artists seen on the walls of Shoreditch this year was extraordinary. Going to finish with a slide show of just a few of the many many pieces that really impressed us this year. Let’s just say that all their efforts have been seen and appreciated and we wish all artists a fantastic and productive 2015.