On the face of it the idea of getting over a hundred top female artists from around the World together to paint one of the most iconic graffiti locations in London might be seen as a bit of a stretch! Never mind the logistics of what promises to be an extravaganza of art, Waterloo’s Leake Street is a long, dark tunnel and the arrangements around putting on a show of this size are impressive indeed.
Perhaps even more so when one considers some of the other events surrounding the 10 day Femme Fierce festival which aims to promote female artists and raise money for breast cancer awareness. A gallery show at the Cre8 Gallery, Graffiti Workshops, Street Art Tours and the premiere of the documentary film ‘Women on Walls’ will all form part of a series of events running from Friday 7th March and incorporating the massive Leake Street All Female Takeover on Saturday 8th March, International Women’s Day.
At the heart of it all is Ayaan Bulale from the ‘Street Art Agency’, co-curator of the festival, “it took about 4 months to formulate the ideas” she says. But it was a meeting with Darren Springer and Julian Aggrey from Hackney Wicks Cre8 Gallery that really breathed life into the project “I was so blessed to meet them, they have been amazing…they have their own ideas but have already taken on board my input and together we’ve created an amazing concept, 10 whole days worth of female street art, it’s crazy” says Ayaan.
As we sit talking about the list of events and the artists that are going to be involved the sheer scale of the commitment becomes clear “I’ve got galleries flying in from Sweden and France specifically to meet the Femme Fierce ladies and to see what we’re doing over here…I’ve also got artists flying in from Singapore, Spain, Brazil, France, America and Dubai. I thought I’d be lucky to get somebody from as far away as Yorkshire” she says. Luckily for Ayaan that Yorkshire link is well represented in the form of this very blog.
The roll call of artists involved reads like a who’s who from the street art world with Artista, Amara Por Dios, Boxhead, Ashes57, Girls on Top, Hannah Adamaszek, Steffi Bow, Stephanie Thieu, Zina and Lana from Animaux Circus just a few of the talented artists involved. There are almost too many names to work through but perhaps that’s just a sign of the breakthrough appeal of street art to women. Although still largely male dominated, gone are the days when the epitome of cool was sneaking onto a railway track and painting a train running around in the dark. That could, admits Ayaan, “be a little bit intimidating”.
Now, although sneaky things still happen, the majority of walls are painted in legal spots with the full consent of the wall owners making the whole experience of painting on the street much less dangerous and more acceptable to a whole new generation. “Women I’ve met seem to be out on the street doing paste ups and painting murals, they seem to love it as passionately as the men do if not more” says Ayaan.
Marketing also plays a part, people seem to be more in tune with the street art scene and the acceptance is growing. For artists who might struggle to get their work in a gallery show, the street is an attractive canvas “It’s an easy way to get your work noticed” says Ayaan. “People are out there all day and all night documenting the scene and putting it up on all kinds of websites like twitter, facebook and instagram. It does get your name out there and that’s the most important thing, you have to be continually marketing yourself and I think that women are learning that”.
One things for sure the series of events over the 10 day Femme Fierce festival certinaly promises to get people talking and with the Leake Street Takeover on International Womens Day promising to be a record breaker it doesn’t seem as though the chatter will die down anytime soon.
For the full breakdown of events check out the Femme Fierce facebook page or see below:
Friday 7th March 6.30pm-10pm – Femme Fierce Group Show opening at the Cre8 Gallery
Saturday 8th March 9am – 5pm – Femme Fierce – All Female Leake Street Takeover
Sunday 9th March 12pm – 3pm – Graffiti Workshop at the Cre8 Gallery
Sunday 9th March – 4pm – 7pm – World Premiere of ‘Women on Walls’ 25 minute street art documentary at the Cre8 Gallery with Q&A
Friday 14th March – 6pm – 10pm – Live Group Mural and Closing Party at the Cre8 Gallery