That has now changed, a beautiful mural on the theme of “connectivity” which truly stands alongside the best in the world has been created in Shoreditch and it is stunning. The fun started in Spring this year and went on until August, 8 groups of artists working in pairs have painted a long montage of murals thematically linked on the idea of “connectivity”. The whole piece has been placed with permission on a building owned by a communications company and Graffoto has had the pleasure of discussing many aspects of this brilliant new mural with Lee Bofkin representing Global Street Art which managed the project.
First, a little flash back. This building for the past 20 years has been a rather intimidating, austere and genuinely brutal edifice. Any art or graffiti that appeared on the building was very swiftly dealt with using high pressure water jets.
The hazy discolouration that evolved over repeated pressure jet cleaning of the walls down the years can be seen in the lower 6 foot of the walls.
The first visible signs of dramatic change appeared in March 2018 when Hunto and Mr Thoms painted the end or perhaps the start of the building. Lee explained; “The people who own the building are Colt, the technology company. They moved into the adjacent building, there was a big office refurbishment and Global Street Art was able to secure permission for artists to paint on the building site hoardings. We knew them from that project and it was a little conversation that resulted from that. Years later they came up with the idea [for the mural] and we said “yeah we can help with that”.
“They suggested the theme of connectivity, and that changed how we thought about it, we realised no one had ever been given the opportunity to do something so big and we really wanted to make it work so we thought we’d take the theme of connectivity and make a literal interpretation of it within each section, so each section would be painted by a pair of artists so they would connect directly with eachother within that section. There was a lot of behind the scenes work coordinating the design, between the Global Street Art team as well as the individual artists, we then composited the ideas together to give a sense of the whole, then we had the conversations with each of the pairs of artists as to how they would each make it blend with the sections adjacent to them. The artists then painted in chunks!”
The hard work on the connections really paid off, and a great example of this can be seen in how the network of talkers, listeners and webcams painted by Thoms connects into the kissing cubist couple by Hunto and then the pipes in the network were left hanging on the fringes until Captain Kris and Tizer came along to paint the next section.
Then we can see how Captain Kris and Tizer, in their section which depicts a connection between the real and the virtual, took the hanging connections and blended them into their artwork, in particular the yellow conduit at the bottom morphs into a triangular branch like enclosure which closes right at the point where the robot with the VR headset is connecting with the female dancer.
The dancers are dancing on a woodland floor which then flows seamlessly into the amazing woodland scene by Ed Hicks and Dr Zadok.
The connectivity depicted in the Hicks/Zadok woodland is provided by the fungal mycelium network, an organic information superhighway which actually really connects plants, trees and mushrooms across the forest floor.
The corner panel where King John Court meets New Inn Yard supports a vanitas painting by Busk and Mr Switch. The connection aspect here is the ammonite shell at the top which has not changed over millennia and thus provides a connection across the ages.
Intended or otherwise, there may be another connection in this section as directly across the road from this corner panel is the HQ of Amnesty International, Amnesty’s logo is a candle entrapped by barbed wire, the candle in the Busk/Switch composition may be making a conection with the Amnesty International candle.
This then flows into a collection of hands in a lattice structure, the hands depict meetings, greetings, introductions, friendships, Ninth Seal and Best Ever have captured a very human form of connectivity.
Next to this is a beautiful tribute to old school modes of connection and communication by Nomad Clan, a pair of artists from Manchester. The lost art of letter writing sits alongside the pigeon post, now superseded by email.
Those curious double headed arrow symbols in Nomad Clan’s art will be instantly familiar as “fast forward” and “rewind” to anyone who ever played or recorded on C60 and C90 cassettes. The fast forward arrow draws your eye to a collaboration between Mr Cenz whose multicoloured portraits are a familiar sight across London and Lovepusher, known for his amazing 3D letter writing. On the left Nomad Clan pay homage to retro connectivity, the female character to the right has the future of connectivity in the palm of her hand.
The whole project in its current form (not to suggest that this is anything other than the final manifestation) was brought to a conclusion by an abstract multi layered network created by AutOne and Neist whose complex handstyle we have loved for years.
Graffoto was very curious about the choice of artists and how they were paired together so it was great to get Lee’s take on that. “It was conversations with the team here at Global Street Art, I had the sense of.. well pretty much everyone we have known or worked with over years and years, we’re six years in now and we had a sense of who would work well with the theme. There were also some people that we really wanted to work with, we wanted Tizer to paint a big wall and he’s been looking for a big wall so a natural pairing for us for Tizer was Captain Kris.”
Lee explains how the sections become progressively less and less illustrative as you work away from Hunto and Mr Thoms at the start.
“In the end with Autone and Neist the style had to be abstract because the space is broken up and layered, so that kind of made sense for a geometric abstract and Autone’s work is about maps and connectivity, it’s that sort of inspiration and it would work brilliantly with Neist and they have gotten on really well and their styles have meshed really beautifully together so we’re super chuffed with this.” Lee said.
The organisation and logistics behind such a colossal mural is also hugely impressive and generally is something that Global Street Art is tremendously qualified to undertake. Just a few stats making the rounds: the mural is about 115m along its base and 13m tall making a surface area of almost 1500square metres; 250 litres of black emulsion (who buys black?) were applied as background and over 500 cans of spraypaint went into the painting.
“The building was so huge we couldn’t imagine painting it in one go just because it is logistically so difficult, the volume of materials is absolutely massive, technically having to close pavements with council permission, manage the traffic because Health and Safety is a huge part of what we do but its fairly thankless and invisible to coordinate all of that and the lifts and to not drop a lift through a utility cover in the road because you can’t park on, all of that went into it as well. To make it manageable we suggested breaking it down into 9 sections originally, the first pair Mr Thoms and Hunto painted two sections so in the end it was 8 pairs of artists.”
A colour palette was selected in dialogue with artists and building owners and generally was adhered to. “It’s such a big building it had to be a black background because if you stare at that much white paint you’ll get blinded in the Summer” Lee explains, “and that will get dirty quicker so the idea is that the black background would last a bit longer and it would fare a bit better against the dirt of the city. Also it’s one way of unifying the different sections if everyone starts with the same colour background.”
The end result of all these dynamics and the organisation and dare I say the connections is just about the most impressive, fresh, single piece themed collaborative mural Shoreditch has seen. All the artists involved deserve a magnificent pat on their respective backs and Lee and the Global Street Art team have every reason to feel very proud of this incredible achievement.
Global Street Art website
Mr Thoms instagram
Captain Kris instagram
Ed Hick instagram
Dr Zadok instagram
Busk One instagram
Mr Oliver Switch instagram
Best Ever instagram
Ninth Seal TBA
Nomad Clan instagram
Mr Cenz instagram