The City is a Monster (with big sharp teeth).
The city of London is almost eight million different things to eight million different people. London can be both a fruitful land of opportunity, and a monster with big sharp teeth. I travel as much as possible, but find rich adventures can be had in your own backyard. I don’t have a backyard, as I live on the top floor, I do however have London.
I wasn’t born in London, but it is all I have ever known as home. It smells bad, it is expensive, and just a few weeks ago I went to sleep watching news unfold of riots just five miles from where I live. However, even with all its toils and troubles, London is a marvelous city. A handsome Devil, full to bursting with whatever detail you can imagine.
I have spent the best part of August setting up my solo exhibition with Cement gallery on Brick Lane. Brick lane is very much the heart, or at least a main ventricle of the East end. Brick lane, and its supporting neighborhoods, are an ever changing gallery of street art.
Home to a colourful spectrum of people, a crossroads for all walks of life, it is the perfect place to reach as many passing eyes as possible. The beautiful and the strange muster, accompanied by twenty-four hour bagels, curry houses, dim sum and then some, flea markets, gypsies, rude boys, transvestites; where the creatures of the night and day collide in an area that never seems to sleep.
Music, food and fashions dance with star gazing gutters from around the world. The East end is ripe, and ready at any given moment to strike sparks and burst into delicious action.
As I painted a wall on bacon Street next to my paint-splattered comrade Ben Slow, we both acknowledged the changing tides of this restless ocean of colours, textures, and people. If there is one constant, it is people. People in all shapes, sizes and disguises. It is a street painter’s paradise. With permission to paint you have a captive audience, epitomised by ‘street art tours’ of flash happy, graffiti loving fans of all things ‘urban’. Just short of a shop selling ‘I heart Banksy’ t-shirts, Brick lane is both a heaven and a hell for the London street art scene.
A tipping point between freedom of artist execution, and an overwhelming abundance of ‘do it yourself’ art anarchy.
Personally, I love it all. The heroes and the villains, the gutters and the stars. When you are standing at the top of a ladder, holding on to drain pipe, painting in the rain, everything seems good, and anything seems possible.
So this show is a kind of a big deal for me. It is me, hanging on a wall in the centre of my home town, framed and mounted for all to see. ‘All you’ll ever need’ is about celebrating what you already have. The show joins the dots of the past few years art making, traveling and general problem solving. Paintings and drawings on wood, metal, leather, paper, glass and canvas frame an installation of painted artifacts, and an imagined museum of objects that have touch my life, and inspired my progress.
by DAVID SHILLINGLAW