Walls have had a bad press lately, but this post is about two more benign uses – street art and Alexander wall work. The first has long been a personal interest – I enjoy its physicality, edge and humour in the midst of the capital. I like it when dull walls acquire a personality overnight, inviting a chuckle or quick photo in the morning.
Jimmy C (below)
James Cochran aka Jimmy C has a signature ‘aerosol pointillist’ style, skilfully mixing urban grit, art history and social comment, mostly using real people in his work.
Like other street artists, his walls are visible in many countries – Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey and the UK. For many, Instagram acts as an internationally accessible gallery for displaying street pieces and earning money via print sales.
SHOK-1 is a chemist by background, spray-painting X-ray art on walls worldwide. Technically difficult, these are done freehand and comment on popular culture, contemporary life and science.
Artists are often commissioned by building owners or allowed to paint on their property. An activity that was once underground, illegal and dangerous is now part of the street fabric and the London visitor experience. Using outside space in a city that’s receptive to street art provides newcomers with profile and recognition. With luck they pick up commissions or access to more formal galleries. The stories of their subjects, also often outsiders, can gain wider currency, as with Dreph (at the top of this post).
Zabou is female and French, now living in London and active on its walls. She works with the spaces she paints, moulding subjects to surroundings.
There’s a contradiction at the heart of street art – the paintings are brash and direct, the artists often private and shy. They’re rarely noticed, producing new pieces quickly or roaming the city to scout locations and observe reaction. Their art can seem banal, but often has political edge and wit. It looks spontaneous but has been planned in detail. It’s also physical in the extreme – working speedily outdoors surrounded by spraypaint fumes, often at height, and at risk from falls, traffic and public or official reaction.
Alexander wall work
Wall work in an Alexander context is much smaller scale. It’s a simpler and quieter way of observing and improving body use on your own or guided by a teacher. You stand slightly away from the wall, just touching, gaining feedback as your body adjusts or making small movements with thought and direction. Like street art it helps you become aware of what’s going on and what it is you’re really dealing with.
As for me, I’m somewhere in the space between the painted and the living. I’m no longer stuck and immobile unable to move far from the wall. But I’m not fully formed as a teacher either. I’m slowly moving from two dimensions to three. It’ll happen, just not overnight. And no spray cans will be involved.
The Street Art Walk by London Walks runs weekly. The route changes regularly to include new pieces as they appear.