Thursday, 18 February 2016

25. East End London Walking Tour

I (Heather) was in London for a few days last October and decided to take one of the many street art walking tours offered in the East End. I chose Alternative London as they had very good reviews and also because they included some history of the area. Spitalfields and Shoreditch have seen many waves of immigrants from different lands over many years.

These houses on Fournier Street, Spitalfields, date back to the 1720's when the persecuted French Huguenots arrived and set up their silk weaving industry. When the silk industry declined the Jewish community expanded into the area and as they moved out the Bengali community moved in. Now down the road in Brick Lane you will find many curry restaurants and in the general area lots of street art.

An equally diverse number of artists showcase their talents in this area of London, many of them from Latin America. Here, our guide, Doug Gillen, of Fifth Wall TV, introduces us to the work of Otto Schade, a Chilean living in London. He is a successful architect but painting has become his strongest passion.

British street artist Stik is very recognizable for his stick figures.

A barber's shop had a door window painted by Paris-based French artist, Christian Guémy, known on the street as C215.

The Puerto Rican muralist, Alexis Diaz combined with his Argentine friend Elian Chali to produce this impressive work.

One of my favourites is this piece by French artist Bom K. on Pedley Street, featuring an individual in a Hazmat suit that's filling with toxins.

ROA from Belgium is well represented in the East End and many of his murals are well-known. This smaller one I particularly like as it can be found on Bacon Street. Although being a vegetarian I prefer to think of her as a liberated pig.

Japanese-born, London-based Saki & Bitches loves to paint her creatures behind bars.

More Latin Americans, again from Chile, Cines (Cynthia Aguilera) and Jekse (Sammy Espinosa) of Un Kolor Distinto Crew are active in Shoreditch. The very first mural of this blog is their's and the one below.

There are also some tiny bronze statues perched on road signs and posts around the neighbourhood by Jonesy, a Welshman by birth who now lives in the area. He found a dead pigeon in his studio one day and incorporated a wing from it into the design shown below. 

 Ant Carver is a London-based artist working from a studio in Hackney Wick. His non-commissioned street art work consists of large paste-ups, mainly portraits, often of celebrities.

The area around Brick Lane is full of street art that is forever changing and well worth a visit next time you are in London.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

24. Here Be Giants: Supersized Street Art in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, as we've mentioned in a few earlier posts, is home to one of the longest stretches of street art in the world. But KL's outdoor mural scene isn't just about width, it's also about height and artistic beauty. That's probably not surprising given that the Malaysian capital is also home to the PETRONAS  Towers - still the tallest and grandest twin towers in the world.

In the spirit of elevated grandeur, we're going to close out our series on KL with a small sampling of the city's largest street murals. Some of these giants were created as part of the 2014 Tanah Hairku (Our Homeland) celebration of Malaysia's Independence Day.This includes our favourite, a six-storey inspirational piece by Anokayer and Yumz, members of the MediumTouch crew:

The mural is loaded with symbolism: the tiger represents Malaysia; the child embodies the spirit of the tiger; and the iPad symbolizes Malaysia's future.

Another big one brought to life for Independence Day was this one by street artist Kenji (Chai), and artist and illustrator Cloakwork. It's called "The Village and The City" and that's Kenji caricaturing himself on the right and Cloakwork doing the same on the left.

And there was this festive one by K.I.S., called "The Smile", displaying a variety of Malaysian symbols:

K.I.S. is the pseudonym for Escape Va, who we spotlighted in our last post, and Perol.

Other larger-than-life pieces were designed with more commercial purposes in mind, like this atmospheric one by Ernest Zacherevic. His massive 69 x 81 ft. artwork, which covers more than four stories, was commissioned by the Allianz insurance company as the centrepiece of its launch festivities for a new plan aimed at rural communities:

The Lithuanian-born Zacherevic now makes his home in George Town on Penang Island. Sometimes referred to as "Malaysia's Banksy" he is credited with almost single-handedly kick-starting the country's street-art movement in 2012. His work now appears across Malaysia and Singapore, and we'll be showing you much more of it down the road.

Another obviously commercially inspired piece was this 2,100 sq. ft. mural spray-painted by Kenji on the corporate headquarters of chicken franchise Nando's:

Fortunately, Kenji is much better known for his efforts to draw attention to the plight of stray dogs in Southeast Asia through numerous paintings of his trademark dog, Chaigo:

We'll close now with this absolutely sensational work. It isn't actually in Kuala Lumpur - but in Johor Bahru, the first Malaysian city north of Singapore. The mural, called "We Protect Together", salutes the friendship between the two cities:
The hands cradling the towers represent Malaysia's diverse population, while the colourful Lego blocks are a nod to Johor Bahru being the home of Asia's first Legoland. It was painted by duo Taib Aur (a founding member of Johor Sketchers) and Jeps. We look forward to discovering more of their work.