London’s Street Art: art under Coronavirus

Last time I wrote about Aubrey Beardsley at Tate, the final exhibition that I managed to go and see before the London coronavirus lockdown in March 2020. Since then I have been largely confined to my house except for ‘exercise’ which in my case means a substantial dog walk every day. I decided to go out and see if the coronavirus experience had motivated any of London’s street artists to respond to our current situation. I took a walk around the parts of EC (East-Central) London which are known for their street art: Shoreditch, Spitalfields and Brick Lane. Here’s what I saw as I walked around:

one of the few murals that reference the virus in the Brick Lane graffiti zone
beautiful hoarding

For the most part, while there are a lotof good artworks there hasn’t been anything particularly impressive happening in the wake of coronavirus here in London. This possibly reflects the fact that most of London’s so called street art is actually commercial; it’s never had much of a political overtone. Unlike cities like Berlin or Valencia, street art in London is very new and was commercialised very quickly. This means there’s some really impressive work but not much of it has anything to say. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, just an observation.

These boarded up windows seem to be a missed opportunity for some nice art work. Pity.

However there has been some very interesting coronavirus responses in the form of paste ups. The paste up is the really political London street art. Very interesting graphic work printed onto paper, either simple black & white or full colour, pasted very quickly on to surfaces around the city. I absolutely love paste ups, much more than the big impressive murals. Paste ups are a kind of conversation. Here are the London coronavirus pasteups that I liked the most.

these yellow ones pastiche the placards the Government uses in their briefings
some of the pasteups take an international perspective…
these went up locally, encouraging people to stay home unlike a certain political adviser (though to be fair I think they are all at it)

And my personal favourite:

i really do…

Stteet art is for everyone. All these photos as usual subject to the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) You can share them, use them noncommercially but you must attribute them to me, Gillian McIver.