Welcome to the first of my regular street art blogs for The Exchange. East London is without doubt one of the World epicentres for un-commissioned urban art and in each of my features I’ll aim to show you why, with a focus on a particular artist or piece.
What better way to kick off than with East London based portrait artist Ben Slow and his ‘shouting heads’ piece on Hanbury Street? This isn’t the first time Ben has painted this wall – in fact this is the same wall where his first ever street piece appeared back in 2010.
This time it is a very different work to his Bengali mother and baby. Ben usually aims to tie his work in with the community in which he works or convey a particular message. In this instance the stunningly realistic ink based portrait depicts a member of the EDL (English Defence League - a far right, anti Muslim group) on the left and an Islamic extremist on the right. These two men think that they are completely different and have very different ideals. But put them on a wall together and they are exactly the same: two angry, narrow minded, hate filled individuals.
The artist received permission from building owner Mr. Hussein to paint his wall, which is just as well as it took him three days to complete. He received an overwhelming positive response from the local community in what is a very culturally diverse and tolerant part of London.
Ben Slow says: As much as I am a painter, I am also a massive fan of street art, but I feel than not enough artists are using their privileged platform to full effect. I am all for stuff that looks great and is aesthetically pleasing, but for me it is also important to say something once in a while, get people thinking rather than simply admiring the beauty of something.
This piece certainly does that. Check out more of Ben’s work here: http://slowben.posterous.com/.
Alternative London offers one of the best experiences we know in London - with their incredible walking tours of East London street are ranking in the top five of TimeOut's 'free things to do' in London. If you wanna join them, book a place now on their site at alternativeldn.co.uk.