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Graffiti tour of East London
Guest post by Russell Bowes:
Living in West London I don’t make it over to the East End that often. I know Shoreditch and Hoxton are really up and coming areas full of trendy cafe’s, bar’s, restaurants, shops and markets. When I think about getting the overground or tube right across London, plans always seem to fall by the wayside. I’ve visited Brick Lane market a few times and been around Spitalfields Market once or twice but never really experienced the area.
That was until I was invited by Logitech UK to come on a graffiti and street art tour of Hoxton, guided by an expert from the Graffiti Kings. Aside from getting immersed in an art world I wasn’t familiar with before we were there to get hints and tips on how to take better pictures from a professional instagrammer and try out some of Logitech’s new iPad keyboards.
We began with a breakfast meet and greet at the Hoxton Hotel and Grill, just off Old Street. After getting set up ready to capture lots of beautiful art work on an iPad Air 2 (mine for the day thanks to Logitech) we set off into the chilly autumn air.
London is a beautiful city as it comes to life in the morning and although it was half nine Hoxton seemed to be waking up fashionable late as we met up with Frank from the Graffiti Kings. Graffiti Kings are a group of graffiti and street artists who work with some of the worlds biggest brands developing artwork. They also produce merchandise and – like today – run graffiti tours of London.
Our guide Frank has been involved in London’s street art and graffiti scene since tagging and spray painting came over from New York in the 1980’s. During the course of our two hour tour he imparted his years of knowledge about different street artists across the world. The first thing I found out was the difference between street art and graffiti.
Graffiti is often seen as tagging, something which scars a landscape, a sign of urban decay. Street art is graffiti taken to the next level. Street art adorns a landscape. It enhances our experience of a building, street, or an area.
Our first area of Graffiti exploration was Whitecross Street, and it’s surrounding streets. This part of Hoxton allows graffiti on certain buildings and it brings beautiful splashes of colour to otherwise ordinary buildings. A lot of the art I saw round here was by Paul ‘Don’ Smith, a street artist whose signature is known as the ‘banker’, an image of a businessman wearing a trilby hat which looks like a tap with running water at first glance.
When you see how involved and complexly created some of the art is you know it can’t have been produced without adequate time and effort, and the okay of the wall’s owner.
Through the tour we saw art works by global street artists such as Space invader (who uses tiles to create images and characters from 8-bit video games), Mr Brainwash and Swoon, from Brooklyn, NY.
The list of artists whose work we came across was much more balanced than I thought it would be. I always imagined street art was male dominated but we saw beautiful works from women, such as Swoon, which blew me away.
There was a real international flavour to the graffiti scene here. Works by artists from Paris, Rome, New York and Portugal mingled with those of London artists.
This 3D image created in concrete by Vhils must have taken hours to chip away at using a hammer, chisel and a jackhammer or two!
After our tour we returned to the Hoxton Hotel for a buffet lunch and a chance to try out some of Logitech’s new accessory range for the iPad Air 2. My personal favourite of the accessories was the Keys to go bluetooth keyboard. It is ultra thin and pared extremely quickly with the iPad.
Though this is a ultra thin keyboard the keys provide tactile feedback thanks to a mechanical keyboard housed in the fabric skin. I think feedback is important if you are used to type speedily. Testing it out, the keyboard felt durable, which is thanks to the fabric covering. Spill’s are easily taken care of with a simple wipe down. Thanks to a three month battery life between charges you can always have it ready to go and it is thin and light enough to pop in a handbag, or large pocket.
Did my photography skills improve? I’ll leave that to your judgement, but it was very interesting experiencing the street art.