London street art

17 May

London street art

So Wrong It’s Right!

Being a graphic designer, I am interested in most forms of art and design and in particular, street art. Street art can offer a glimpse at upcoming trends, amazing diversity and represents to me what we dream of doing – the freedom to just create. It is these things that often elude “graphos” who have to consider the commercial realities of a job.

Escaping the Sydney Summer of 2012, I travelled to Europe, ending the last week of my trip in the UK, London. A must-see on my list was the Tate Modern Art Gallery. One of four Tate galleries in London, the “Modern”, was originally a 1947 power station that has been masterfully transformed into a cavernous, yet breathtaking art space. Funnily enough, although it impressed me, it’s what I saw on the way to the “Modern” that really caught my interest.

The gallery is situated within London’s South Bank, which winds along, following the River Thames. Being an uncharacteristically sunny day, I decided to head towards the gallery on foot from the city centre where I reached South Bank in no time. Along the promenade called The Queens Walk, I happened upon a dreary looking building, The Queen Elizabeth Hall and it was there, under the foyer section of the building that I found an under-covered concrete make shift gallery with an overwhelming smell of urine that housed several treasures.

Of course there were skateboarders, truants, junkies, the odd vagrant and even a second hand bookseller who had courageously set up a pop-up stall (not exactly sure of his target market?). The artworks varied in themes, colour and medium which all added to the general feeling of anarchy (shout out to the Sex Pistols) and the urban angst of it all. From a political stencil of Obama, to a rainbow birthday cake touting “One world peace” (not piece) to an A4 photocopied image of a urinal sticky taped to a wall, it was all so original and cool.

However, from a commercial designer point of view, it evoked a slight uneasy, panicked feel. The spelling errors, clashes of colour, font crimes and complete disregard for kerning left me feeling slightly unstable…but really inspired.
So thank you London!  On the one hand your street art is so wrong it’s right but also reminds me of my own urban borough I returned to in Sydney, Newtown.

Photography and design Darren Whittam (Kudos Studio)
This image is of an iphone wielding skateboarder with mandatory hoody. I edited by flipping the whole image, blew out the contrast, converted to greyscale and multiplied some primary coloured paint splashes to convey the mood. Luckily, I managed to get a silhouette so as not to worry about a model release. This composition captured many of the quintessential props of this surprise tourist attraction (which isn’t in any Lonely Planet book I’ve seen), which will always remind me of the simultaneous horror and inspiration I experienced from viewing these works. This ended up being one of my favourite images of the whole trip.

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