We’ve seen a lot of street art in our travels over the last few years. It has run the gamut from heavy political statements from oppressed peoples to pure whimsy. We’ve admired and taken a number of photos of these eye catching pieces, but can’t say we always quite got it.
We are sure they tell a story but without being clued in all we could do is admire it. In the US, I think we viewed graffiti as vandalism and not necessarily art. So it was a great treat to take the Alternative Art Tour while in London and learn a bit about street art from an actual street artist. Our guide took us around the Spitalfields area of London showing us a number of different works by artists from around the world, all plastered illegally or with permission of the property owner in public spaces. Some of them were amazingly detailed for a piece that might exist for only a matter of days before it’s removed by the authorities or painted over by another artist.
There is quite a bit of planning that goes into a good piece, including avoiding capture by cops or the ubiquitous CCTV cameras that seem to record every aspect of outdoor life these days.
The artist who did this little sculpture above stuck on a post is known to wear a worker’s fluorescent vest and use a ladder in broad daylight, as impersonating a public worker may be the best way to avoid detection. Some artists are very secretive and are not interested in personal publicity, which adds to the mystery and attraction of that artist’s work. Hearing all this from a participant in this underground world was hugely illuminating. We highly recommend taking this unique tour to anyone visiting London, and then perhaps you’ll see the graffiti in your hometown in a new light.