Tuesday, September 13, 2011

London Street Art Tour

We wanted to do something cultural in our time in London, but because both of us had been to London before, we didn't want to do the typical touristy spots such as the National Gallery or Buckingham Palace.  After doing a little research we came across the London Street Art Tour (  We booked through Expedia Activities and saved a few Pounds.

We had watched "Exit Through the Gift Shop" and were really excited about the possibility of seeing some of Banksy's art.  There was a mix up with our reservation, and the tour company was so accomodating, they set us up with a private tour, which was fantastic! Damien, our tour guide cum street artist was so knowlegable about each artist and the methods of producing the work.  We had seen some of the art in our own stroll through the area, but seeing it after hearing the story behind the artist and each artist's methods really provided a different perspective, and quite honestly, a greater appreciation for street art.   Here are some of our favorites:

Roa's art amazes.  He is a Belgian street artist that is renowned for his black and white animal street art.  We learned that he does all of his work free-hand with no stencils or grids (both of which are used by most street artists).  He chooses his subjects based on animals native to the particular region.  Roa's animals can be found in cities all across the world.

"Graffiti is one of the most free art expressions of the world; you don’t do it for money nor for an institution, it’s free expression and it liberates yourself creatively from a lot of restrictions"  - Roa

Stik was one of my favorites.  Stik was homeless for some time and was squatting in an abandoned building when he found some paint.  He started drawing stick figures (hence his alias) and realized how happy it made him.  Though his pieces are whimsical, many depict the lonliness he felt throughout his homeless period.  Now, Stik has become quite famous among the street artists and several galleries have made shows for him. He spends his time traveling the world tagging old buildings and new, with his stick figures and a great part of everyday ensuring no other graffiti artist has encroached on his works of art.  His story just goes to show that you never know what the world will bring you...

“Beauty is in movement. That’s what it’s about. Beauty is about the way that someone moves their body. You can tell by someone’s walk if they’re angry, whether they’re happy or if they’ve just eaten. You can tell a lot about someone just by the way they’re moving their back or their eyes. There doesn’t need to be a great deal of detail there. You can see it from across the road. You can see someone silhouetted against a white wall in the night and check whether they’re walking in an aggressive way or if they’re someone you know. That’s what I’m trying to capture in my work – that direct recognition” – Stik, in Little London Observationalist, 6 December 2009

"Surprising" describes Pablo Delgado's art.  We passed by some of his pieces without even noticing they were there, until Damien kneeled down to point them out. Delgado captures a scene in miniature, and it is such a surprise when you discover these little treasures.  It feels like uncovering a hidden secret.  The shadows painted on the concrete give the pieces such depth, that it kind of brings the viewer into the scene.  Apparently, among his favorite subjects are prostitutes, and of late, many street corners throughout London are sprinkled with tiny unnoticed prostitutes, casting shadows on the concrete sidewalks.

Unfortunately, Banksy's art eluded us.  We did see remnants of a few Banksy pieces, but most had been faded with time (which is apparently part of the beauty and mystique of street art, it is ethereal, and if you miss it, it may be gone forever).  Following the film's success, Banksy's pieces became so valuable that now the government is contemplating categorizing walls tagged by Banksy as pieces of historical heritage.  This will prevent developers (or the London Council) from destroying any more of Banksy's art.

We did see an old car painted pink by Banksy. The car (much like most remaining Banksy paintings), is now covered entirely in plexiglass to help preserve it.

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