Chopped up shop shutters covered in graffiti are filling a Camden art gallery, as graffiti continues its transition from street art to gallery art.
A number of London’s more famous, or notorious (delete as applicable) graffiti and street artists are included here, and as much as the exhibition is about the art, it’s also an education into the artists themselves.
Small biographies are next to each of the artworks, and you can finally put an identity to the many decorations that have adorned or despoiled the streets of London over the decades.
A number of the artists on show are the ones who I suspect a number of London Underground cleaners would have punched if they met them, as they were responsible for the spate of tube train graffiti, which has fortunately pretty much died out now.
Street art though has gained rather more respectability since those days, and basic tagging aside, the modern street artist though has become not just tolerated in places, but actively encouraged, and even going mainstream.
As one of the cards notes, the street artist, Teach has recently done a collaboration with clothing brand Maharishi. Sarbo, aka, Ben Eine has one of his pieces hanging in the Whitehouse after David Cameron gifted a newly sworn-in Barack Obama one of his original pieces. Mear started tagging tube trains, but is these days commissioned by councils to produce approved street art.
So on display in Camden are a selection of artworks, that have also been preserved on the texture of the shutters. The works on display retain the rawness so often lost in photographic exhibitions of street art.
The 25 artists in this show make up the forefathers of the graffiti community from the 80’s all the way through to current and emerging writers.