Street Art Trip

When we talk about art, places like the Tate Modern or the National Portrait Gallery come to mind. Now scrap those images as the date is Monday 10th April and members of the Swan Youth Project are standing next to a busy roundabout just outside Old Street tube station. This is where we met Dave who was taking us on a guided walk of street art around Old Street/ Shorditch, and little did we know when we were looking for street art on the sides of the walls, that actually we were standing on top of the art itself!

Ben Wilson aka “Chewing gum man” creates art all around London by painting over pieces of littered gum that are stuck to the streets. He spends hours painting with tiny little brushes getting as much detail as he can into these tiny pieces of art. As a group we loved them, and as we set off on our walk we knew we were really going to have to start looking closely and in strange places to hunt down these little hidden gems.

Next on the list was seeing Stik’s work. This artist, who was homeless for a long period of his life, has a very distinct style and as the name suggests his art manifests in stylised stick people. But these stick people aren’t just painted for fun: the artist created them to make us think. They convey what is going on in the community socially and economically. The giant stick people were created after the artist had spent time chatting to residents of Shoreditch and finding out how they respond to their environment.

Another Artist who we all really liked and found fun to search for was Invader who originates from France. He started to recreate characters from the early computer game of the 80’s Space Invader. The idea being that you download an app and when you find an invader in the streets you take a photo of it and win points. Invaders work is all over the world and is such a simple and playful idea.

I won’t go through all the artists we saw but please have a little look through the film. We would love to run this trip again as street art in London is always changing and that makes it both exciting and rewarding to explore. Even Dave, our tour guide, was surprised by new artists’ work that had been put up in the previous couple of days. At the beginning of the trip everyone was eager to see orginal Banksys as he really has spearheaded this genre over the years and got a lot of media attention. But when we left we felt excited that so many different artists are working in different ways each with their own unique style and motivations.

We wanted to use this trip also as a way to get ideas of artwork that we can create at the Swan Youth Centre in our backroom, but also to inspire our Members about how they see art at school. Not all art is made for a frame or a gallery. Instead it’s fun to explore back streets and alleyways finding our own unknown artists. Anyway what is art……? Maybe that’s a conversation for a different blog?

P.s. we had a great curry too on Brick Lane, maybe next time we will go for a Bagel.