Took the Alternative London tour recently, and felt that it was well presented by our tour guide Josh. He was passionate and really knew the material he was talking about.
However, I was dissapointed with the nature of the street art that he presented. This is not a tour of "edgy" street art, and dont expect any social commentary of society. To my mind, it often came across as "artists" who were interested merely in promoting thier name and not any insight into life in 2012 London, or the East End.
Josh offered examples of artists such Conor Harrington, whose work was very nice but also sells in gallerys for £1000s. Also Ben Eine who career took off when PM David Cameron gave Obama a print of his work on the US president's visit to Britain. One Ben Eine piece was the word ANTI painted in 12ft high letters down a wall. What wasn't clear was what he is anti towards. We were are are also told that often street artists will paint a piece to promote gallery opnening of thier shows. a large bow and arrow commissioned by London Mayor Boris Johnston remained untouched, an indication of how the artists crave acceptabliity in the mainstream.
whilst the art was pretty and accomplished and clearly there are artistically talented people working in this area, it seemed to be mere prelude to thier hitting the gallerys and the big bucks the mainstream will pay for "edgy" street art. pretty but with nothing to say. You could equally go to a mainstream gallery, tate britian etc and see pretty pictures too, and at least you would be warm.
Josh showed us the orginal markers for where the city of London ended and the east end began. perhaps the most interesting thing i seen was the one street where the crumbling 19th east end houses faced directly across the street to the massive financial skyscrappers of Bishopsgate. Josh pointed out how how the City and thier developments were encroaching into the east end and that character of the place was in danger of being lost. yet street art was noticeably absent from the walls of these fine institutions.
the differences between the wealth and power of the City of London and the working class nature of the east end could not have been more clear, yet the street artist seemingly have no comment to make about this.
on the whole the tour came across as a presentation of work by artists concerned only with promoting thier name to the point where they can sell for £1000s, or get recogntion from the great and good.
pretty but not alternative. Try Berlin street art instead.
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