Saturday, 22 October 2016

Advertising Shits In Your Head

all photos Dave Stuart except Dog Section Press as noted

Street art is nothing without an element of subversion.  All street artists doing permission murals or safe pasteups in highly tolerant art zones should be grateful to the proponents of illegal, subversive street art who boldly risk everything to lend street art its veneer of edgy coolness. 

Cut Up Collective, 2008

In the early days of street art an anti advertising posture was the default mantra trotted out as the justification for damaging public property with visual media.  Billboard media was often the host surface to which parasitic street art images adhered, they didn’t ask your permission for their adverts, why should you ask theirs for use of their canvas for your art?   Pushing back against advertisers’ use of OUR public common realm to coerce desire and demand when otherwise none would occur were crack ad space hijackers like D*Face, the Cut Up Collective, Zevs, Poster Boy and more recently Mobstr and Hogre.

Cut Up Collective 2008

Hogre, Shoreditch, 2016

In the past couple of weeks we have spotted a new round of ad busting credited to an artist  using the ID @proteststencil.   As I rushed  past some illegal flyposter adverts in Shoreditch a couple of weeks ago I spotted the lyrical but brutal slogan “advertising shits in your head”.   I thought “wow, someone could really do something with that”.  The next day an email informed me that someone had!  Sadly in my rush I hadn’t stopped to photograph the subverted flyposting in its pristine form and when I returned a certain amount of decay had already set in but you get the idea from this photo:

@ProtestStencil 2016

A late excursion to Islington confirmed that all the @stencilprotest ad heists had gone with this one exception:

@ProtestStencil 2016

Was there a point to this new ad busting campaign?  Well, anarchy takes a lot of organising so to help get your ad hacking shenanigans structured and effective, Dog Section Press is  publishing “Advertising Shits In Your Head (Strategies For Resistance) and a crowdfunding campaign has been set up to cover printing costs.  Personally I fancy the book and the teeshirt.

image courtesy Dog Section Press 

Noted ad busting artists such as our long time favourite Dr D in London and Jordan Seiler from New York who we had the great pleasure of meeting this year have provided their insights as to why this publication is particularly significant,

“Advertising Shits In Your Head concisely describes, through unique first-hand accounts, the range of concerns adressed by today's subvertising community. From a right to the city argument, to the belief that advertising is the biggest obstacle to avoiding catastrophic climate change, Advertising Shits In Your Head envisions a movement looking far beyond culture jamming and corporate identity sabotage." – Jordan Seiler (Public Ad Campaign)

Jordan Seiler
Jordan Seiler, London, 2016

"Once advertising has shit in your head, you're going to need something to clean it up with; I couldn't recommend this book more highly." Dr. D

Dr d Curfew Zone
Dr D, 2015

Today issues such as is there such a thing as good advertising or bad advertising or is there too much advertising or where should advertising go is the subject of much commercial, municipal and academic debate. Meanwhile, advertisers advertise and street artists resist and street artists everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to advert hijackers, Advertising Shits In Your Head will explain why it is important we have people willing to stand up to advertisers and how it could be done.

image courtesy Dog Section Press

Of course the use of ad hacking and an anti-advertising stance to promote and raise awareness of one's crowdfunding of an anti-advertising manual is itself rather ironic but it has to be done.  For more examples of @stencilprotest’s efforts to support this campaign check the Special Patrol Group Facebook page

Friday, 16 September 2016

Stick 'em Up (Portland vs London)

London is constantly blessed, honoured and privileged to receive visits from street artists from foreign shores and our scene is enriched by their creative mischiefs. Since last weekend a group of artists mainly hailing from Portland, Oregon have been absolutely caning London’s walls. The artists now represented in strength in London are Arrex skulls, Voxx Romana, DRSC0, Pamgoode, Sike 1 and Tenet, all from Portland apart from Melbourne’s Tenet who hooked up with the Portland Group (for that is what I feel inclined to call them) here in London.

Arrex is a regular visitor to these shores and is a leading sticker artist using a skull motif as the basis for his colourful and surprisingly varied stickers. New cranial variations seen this time include a surreal 4 eyed skull and a very Sailor Jerry inspired sticker beautifully slapped onto a very relevant sign.

Arrex Skulls

tn_IMG_1940 copy
Arrex Skulls

A new direction so far as Arrex’s wall decoration in London goes are paste ups, though the skull remains ever present.

If Consumed - Plan Funeral, Arrex Skulls

Arrex has also put up a whole bunch of stencils, again we haven't seen this aspect of his practice in London in the past. Smaller stencils employ convention bridges in hanging details like the eyes, these give the skulls a robotic cyborg kind of appearance. Larger stencils though adopt the mesh mounting technique, perhaps that's an American thing.

Arrex Skulls

tn_IMG_1918 copy
Arrex Skulls

Voxx Romana’s Einstein-in-a-helmet motif has regularly appeared on London’s streets, this time is no different, the cheeky little specimen below is a transparent sticker hiding it’s black image against a black pole, you’ve got to have your special street art night vision peepers fully operational to spot a self effacing sticker like this!

Voxx Romana (note D7606 in the background - see "PDX v LDN" below)

Voxx Romana paste ups have appeared here in the past, one thing that must give Voxx Romana and Arrex Skulls a special tingle is finding that numerous specimens of art from their previous visits are still visible in certain select locations. This new example is stenciled onto an original map lobbed by Voxx's local library.

tn_IMG_1895 copy
Voxx Romana, 2016

Another little gem from the Voxx Romana treasure hunt is this curious two colour sticker on a transparent background. At first glance it looked like two single layer transparent stickers one over the other but on closer inspection it reveals itself as a two colour transparent sticker with an offset registration, ‘cos that s the kind of thought that pops into your head when you look at stickers, innit?

Voxx Romana

DRSC0 has also gone down the sticker and paste up route. The first couple of DRSC0 paste ups sighted went up on Saturday evening (ok, some time between Saturday morning and Sunday morning) but suffered pretty swift scragging. Maybe the eyes offended a religious sensibility, certainly the quadruple eyes thing can be a bit disconcerting. By Sunday morning the damage to one of DRSC0’s paste ups had been partially made good with a little spray painted filling in.

tn_DSC_0463-001 copy

Street art soars when it has site specific relevance and DRCS0 has taken two flayed man stickers (ok, maybe I have spent too much time immersed in Game Of Thrones this year, quite possibly they are medical illustrations) and created this tiny but wonderful homage to Stik’s treasured Brick Lane couple.

DRSC0 vs Stik

DRSC0 has also deployed stencils, like Arrex favouring the mesh mounting approach, visible if you look closely at this image of a sunrise over a mountain peak.


Tenet, repping Melbourne, reinvents and rediscovers quotes from the ancient wise; pearls of wisdom and vintage photos of crusty warriors, philosophers and revolutionary anarchists who lived and learnt all that meaning-of-life-shit long ago and whose messages remain valid today.

Tenet feat Atilla The Hun

The Russian philosopher and anarchist Mikhail Bakunin (rather than the later restatement attributed to Picasso) is the source for “The urge to destroy….”

tn_DSC_0491 copy

Emma Goldman was also a noted early 20th Century anarchist once impressively dubbed “the most dangerous woman in America”; when street art prompts you to google online biographies and learn something – that’s mission accomplished.

tn_DSC_0503 copy

Pamgood2, also from Portland, spies on us from the walls. Her photorealistic mono-eye and a sternly furrowed eyebrow are surrounded by lurid coloured splats. It’s like we are on the wrong side of a peephole in a spraycan test facility.


Another artist representing Portland is Sike1 who has put up stickers and some paste ups in Shoreditch, on the stickers the art was very gothic and gloomy looking, on the paste up it still looks gothic and gloomy though at the larger scale the curious goat skull/5 branch candelabra/hooded female figure in undies composition is easier to see, who knew Death’s handmaiden looked so attractive.

tn_IMG_1936 copy
Sike 1

While Arrex and Voxx Romana have both had significant representation on London streets in the past, on this occasion there is a further dimension to the Portland Group's visit, a very short group show at the ever interesting BMST Space in Dalston. Several of London’s (umm..a definition of London extended to embrace Brighton and Birmingham and other up North spots) street artists are exhibiting alongside 5 sons and daughters of Portland (note Mad1 from Portland also in the show, street art output not yet discovered by this scribbler). This is open for a limited 3 day period from Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th of September so don’t delay, hurry and get along to see how this curious geographic face off works indoors.

tn_201609015 BMST SPace PDX v LDN
Flyer from BSMT Space

What is evident in the work this group has put up in the space of a few short days is their energy and the evident enjoyment. Life has no greater thrill than the adjustment of the urban landscape in the company of like-minded friends and this brotherly – and sisterly – band have taken to our urban surfaces with glee. Participation in the Portland>London face off in the gallery may be their reason for coming over but in the battle on the streets, Portland has taken a sticky grip on our walls in the past few days.

Jana & JS (Fr), Arrex Skulls, DRSC0 and friend of the Portland Group WRDSMTH (his recent visit)

The tardy protracted creation of this blog post (each day as I approached a conclusion, these blighters put up even more work that caught my eye) means that I have just returned from the show and that exuberant energy that has marked their cutting a swathe across London's walls transports itself into the gallery. The artists are to a soul personable and friendly creatures and I understand that they will all (the Portland Group faction at least) be present in the gallery on Friday evening (16th Sep) as well, for those of you reading this in time.

PDX>LDN opening night

All photos: Dave Stuart (NoLionsInEngland)


Arrex Skulls:
Voxx Romana:


BSMT Space:

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Jana & JS: Inner World

July 7th - 31st

StolenSpace Gallery
17 Osborn St, London E1 6TD

all photos: Dave Stuart aka NoLionsInEngland

For decades stencilism has had a defining role in many movements from the student politics of the 60s to anarchic punk in the 70s through to its big moment at the heart of the street art culture in the late 90s and 2000s. The latter was due in no small part to Banksy and in 2008 he himself played a big role in expanding the vision of the UK street art culture to a broader range of stencil artists when he staged Cans Festival in London, a stencil extravaganza which introduced many stencil artists pretty much unknown within these shores and in doing so paved the way for several years of solo shows by quite brilliant exponents of the form.

Jana & JS, 2012

Out went flat single layer comic-political stencilism and in its place came more complex multi-coloured stencils with a much more obvious case for proclaiming itself as “Art”.


Jana and JS have been working together as artists for about 10 years though it wasn’t until 2012 that they first put up stencil art in London.


Their self portraits laid bare poignant moments and the juxtaposition of figuration and architectural elements made each one a kind of essay in the relationship between the personal and the urban landscape.

tn_DSC_9023 copy

In 2013 they put one curious pair of portraits in which the couple were distanced from eachother and whilst Jana gazed longingly at JS, JS had the worn patience of a man waiting outside the ladies’ changing room while his partner tried on yet another dress. What struck me (more than that flippant interpretation) was that they put this up on a wall which had been a stencil/tag hall of fame for years until the wall owners beat off artists by means of furious constant buffing, theirs being the first piece that remained on that surface for a reasonable length of time and indeed opened the door for Amanda Marie and subsequently all and sundry to restore that wall to the glorious, constantly changing street gallery we had loved many years before.

tn_DSC_9153 copy
Shoreditch, 2013

And so to 2016 and the aptly named “Inner World” solo show in the larger portion of Stolen Space’s two room gallery.

tn_IMG_0653 copy
Inner World

The stencil art is just beautiful. JS confided that the works in the show take much longer to make than street pieces because a lot more care goes into them than the stencils we see on the streets where “no one is going to have to look at them on their own wall for the next 10 years”.

tn_IMG_0616 copy
Clockwise from top: Reve, Lovers At The Train Station, Since You've Been Gone


tn_IMG_0623 copy
Waiting For You

Most of the art is intensely personal, Jana and JS use themselves as the models for most of their emotion laden imagery. The figures are wistful, languid and leisurely, the paintings are soft and beautiful acrylic and spray paint compositions.

tn_IMG_0622 copy
Bitter Thoughts

tn_IMG_0625 copy
Another Try

tn_IMG_0627 copy
The Beauty Of Being Here

tn_IMG_0638 copy
A Long Time

Most of the paintings are spraypaint and acrylic on canvas, some are on found materials; the ones which stand out though are those painted on assembled salvaged wood.

tn_IMG_0636 copy
I'll Be Around For A While

tn_IMG_0619 copy
Thinking About You And Me

tn_IMG_0632 copy
July 23

tn_IMG_0646 copy
Only You Can Know

tn_IMG_0642 copy

tn_IMG_0640 copy
I Guess Its True

This post started with a minute morsel of stencilism history, it is pleasing to see that the gallery stage has not been swept entirely clear of stencils. Strong, powerful pure stencil solo shows have been relatively infrequent in recent years yet curiously two opened in London on the same night last week, Otto Schade being the other. Stencils are still used to great effect on the streets by artists such as Mobstr, Syd, Endless, Trust Icon and stencilists from abroad such as C215, Fra Quendo, Amanda Marie still come and decorate London walls (these are not exhaustive listings, there are thankfully many others). Jana and JS have done a great job of reminding us that stencils can still look as good in the gallery as they look great out on the streets.

tn_IMG_0627 copy
Time Stopped Moving

tn_IMG_0650 copy

tn_IMG_0651 copy