I have always loved art. Perhaps it is because I was immersed in it as a child. Everywhere at home there was art, or the raw materials waiting to become art. Half-squeezed oil paint tubes, brushes, canvas, paper, easels, clay, wood and chisels. You can’t help but love art when your mother is an artist – it becomes part of your DNA (quite literally!)
Possibly because I witnessed so much art in the making I’ve always found art galleries to be strangely cold and sterile places where art is displayed out of context and mostly without reference to the artists themselves. No noises, no smell, no fascinating studio filled with pieces of half-finished or discarded art. No eccentricity. Just white walls and a curator’s view of how the art should look each day. At night people are banished, the doors are locked and it all falls silent, like some huge forbidding shrine.
How much better it would be if the art could be set free and artists allowed to create their work without the constraints of commissions or the control of curators. It was with this in mind that I headed over to Brick Lane this weekend to take a peek at some of the art that had escaped and was running free in that area. What I wandered into I can only describe as The Great Artscape.
I took the underground to Aldgate East station and then wandered aimlessly along Whitechapel Road before entering Osborne Street and making my way up to Brick Lane itself. Everywhere there was street art great and small. The art here has wonderful vibrancy to it – fresh and unencumbered, merging with the environment and I am guessing mostly transient in nature. Beneath some of the pieces you could see a hint of the previous art that had been painted over. Everywhere I looked I spotted something else that was worth a closer look.
I was not alone in this venture – the entire area seemed to be filled with tourists all waving cameras and wandering down dark alleyways art spotting. Taking a selfie with a piece of Brick Lane art seems to be a necessity for many visitors to London these days and there were even guides explaining the background to some of the pieces to groups of American tourists. As for the locals they seem to take it all in their stride which makes this area a haven for street photographers. If you want to practise your street photography then this is the place to come. An interesting and vibrant community and the most wonderful backdrops you could ever hope for.
The place lends itself to exploring and wandering around – some great cafes, restaurants and pubs as well as street food on market days. The streets I remember going down include Redchurch Street, Heneage Street, Brick Lane (which lies at the heart), Osborne Street, Grimsby Street, Pedley Street, Cheshire Street and possibly Bacon Street and Sclater Street. The basic rule seems to be to explore – you will not be disappointed at what you find.
I think whoever is behind this project (if any one person can be credited) is a visionary but if it simply developed organically via the community itself then it is a wonderful example of what can be achieved. Without the art the area could be drab – there is nothing worse than a grey shop shutter or dirty piece of blank hoarding. Instead they have created a vibrant area that has become a destination in its own right. So if anyone asks whether street art should be embraced in your area think of Brick Lane – perhaps the answer will then be an emphatic ‘yes’.
I have put some more photos in the slide show below and hope you enjoy.
All shots taken with a Fujifilm X-T1 and 18-55mm lens with the camera set to film simulation mode for Fuji Velvia.
The IP of all of the art here resides with the artists. If any of your art is displayed here and you want to be credited in the Blog (or want the image removed) please let me know and I will oblige.