Something seems to have been in the water recently around Hanbury Street, theres been a whole load of shaking up going on. Now of all the places to find street art in London, Hanbury Street has got to be up there as one of the best, there really have been some cracking pieces there recently, the ROA crane being possibly the most famous. It hit the news recently when the local council chose to cover it up with a big banner advertising their ‘curry capital’. The furore around this prompted the council to remove the banner once more displaying the crane. A good move, it’s a fantastic piece of work and actually has become quite iconic to the area.
Other artists putting their stamp on the street include Ben Slow, Malarky, Otto Shade, Milo Tchais, Dale Grimshaw, Finbarr Dac and Dscreet they are either still there or have been there recently. The new pieces that have really mixed up the place though are from Los Angeles artist Mear One who has replaced the ‘angry extremists’ piece from Ben Slow and from Slow himself who has created a striking portrait called ‘The Queen of Spitalfields’, a tribute to a local landlady, Sandra Esqulant. Slow has done this before, just up the road on Bacon Street is a portrait of Charlie Burns, a man who was well loved in the area and had lived there all his life. The portrait on Bacon Street was a tribute to his life and welcomed by the local community, it seems that the Queen of Spitalfields is in the same vane. The new piece replaces a piece from Finbarr Dac, itself quite striking.
The loss of the angry extremists though is sad, this was a truly fantastic work of art which sent a very powerful message. The Mear One piece is incredible of course and stands up on it’s own right but it would have been nice if it were done on another bit of wall. It features a group of wizened old men playing monopoly on the backs of a group of hunched nondescript people. Prominent in the background is the ‘all seeing eye’ which most people would recognise from it’s starring role on the back of the American one dollar bill. On the far left a protester holds up a placard saying ‘The new world order is the enemy of humanity’. On the far right in a doorway, a woman and child look out from the shadows. An inscription on the mural says ‘from LA to London, “Freedom For Humanity”. It’s really not bad, not bad at all.
Finally, high on the wall by the Queen of Spitalfields portrait is a sketch of a young man staring skywards and possibly whistling. The sketch seems to have been made on the front half of a recycled notice and parts of the old sign can be seen through the drawing. On the left hand side of the young man’s head is an orange crown, the purpose of which defeats me. It all adds though to the variety of this street which acts as such a magnet to the talent of East London.