Eye on London Street Art : Spencer Elzey in Europe

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For the first week-long “residency” on BSA, Spencer Elzey has been sharing his experiences and Street Art photos from his recent trip to Europe. Today we finish with London, a polished and presentable collection of some of the current scene from the streets.

The city has long played host to a rolling panoply of urban art and artists and is a prime example of the professionalization of the practice featuring a greater absorption into the culture and economy at large with galleries, museums, shops, and paid tour guides all joining in. The upshot is you will see some of the best examples of talent and it may at times seem all quite combed over and generally safe for a general audience.  Not that there isn’t dynamism and risk taking, and you will still find unsanctioned work to be seen inside and outside of the tourist hotspots.

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Sweet Toof and Roa (photo © Spencer Elzey)

Hosting the Olympics last year brought a self cleansing of much of the organically grown graffiti and Street Art, and the chilling effect of living in an electronically surveilled society with cameras nearly everywhere will undoubtedly be sited to when historians look at the nature of art on the streets from this era.

“London had a lot of Street Art but it felt more corporate and organized for the masses,” says Elzey of his time walking through Shoreditch, Brick Lane, Hackney, Bethnal Green, and Camden. “In the week that I was there I walked by around five Street Art tours.”

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Sweet Toof (photo © Spencer Elzey)

“Most of London’s street art is confined to these places – The other areas that I explored around London all seemed pretty clean. This may have been due to the fact that there are security cameras everywhere,” he says. An international first world city, London usually is a destination for the international “circuit” of Street Artists whose names tend to reappear on lists of the various street/graffiti/urban art festivals that now pop up in global cities from Lima to Łódź and Living Walls to Nuart to Upfest and the recently ended FAME.

As with any art form that begins as transgressive and underground and evolves to be adopted by the dominant culture, at times the whole scene begins to resemble the commercial and institutional interests it once mocked or attempted to subvert. “London is great but felt more catered to the bigger players and had the most street art in commissioned form (by the various Street Art organizations), which is good to see some amazing work but cheapens the art a little,” he says.

In the images he shares with BSA readers today you can see the really strong work that is throughout those neighborhoods as many of the artists consider strongly what they will do – and it results in some quite striking pieces. As always, you want to keep an eye on London. Surely it will keep an eye on you.

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Miss Van and B. Schu (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Otto Schade (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Otto Schade (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Otto Schade (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Otto Schade (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Shok 1 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Gnasher (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Alexis Diaz (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Ben Eine (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cranio (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cranio (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cranio (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cranio (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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For The Love Of Dog (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Banksy (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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A sculptural installation by D*Face (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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ROA (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Swoon (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Guy Denning (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Urban Solid (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Sokaruno (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Vinie and Reaone (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Anthony Lister (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Finabarr DAC (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Phlegm (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Faith 47 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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El Mac (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Conor Harrington (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Conor Harrington (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Klone (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Dal East (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Dscreete (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Insa (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Martin Ron (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Jana & JS (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Christian Nagel (photo © Spencer Elzey)

 

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