From sticking up paste ups in leafy Surrey to getting down and dirty with a spray can in the famous Leake Street tunnel, such is the upcoming journey for Lana Alana, one third of the popular design and mural grouping Animaux Circus as she prepares to take part in the Femme Fierce all female takeover of the famed graffiti tunnel on International Women’s Day Saturday 8th March.
The event is something that Lana is looking forward after coming across it on the internet, “I woke up one morning and I thought I’d just go on twitter and started looking up street art stuff and murals and I always get carried away by this sort of stuff because one link leads to another and another and you can just go on forever it’s great”. This led to Femme Fierce which piqued her interest, “I started to google it and just thought wow what a cool project” she told me.
Normally operating as part of the multi-faceted design and street art crew Animaux Circus, this year represents a spreading of the wings and the Femme Fierce event is an enabler to that. Still an active part of the Circus it’s an opportunity to work more individually as well as in a collective. The event in Leake Street will really be the first time that Lana has painted a large scale mural alone “I’ve always really done it with Animaux Circus or I’ve always gone painting with them and our work has sort of merged together whether it’s supposed to or not” she told me, “so I’m quite excited about just seeing my own design”.
Animaux Circus formed when Lana and her friends Margot and Rory met at university in Farnham. Studying Graphic Design they realised that their styles could work well together. The name comes from a shared love of animals and one place a number of animals can be seen together is in a circus. The French angle on the name is a recognition of the different nationalities within the group, Lana and Rory are English and Margot French. Their first project together being a series of paste ups around the leafy suburbs of Surrey, “I don’t know if you’ve been to Farnham? But it’s a bit posh” she laughs, an inauspicious start to street art perhaps, but from there the seed was sown.
Meeting Lana at her studio in Stoke Newington it’s clear where she gets her inspiration as she shares a space with three other artists. One of Margot’s bears takes pride of place on a wall by her desk, nestled amongst drawings of frogs by Rory and colourful signs written by Lana herself. The three merge their work together well and it’s interesting to see up close their individual styles and then how they are combined within the frame of a larger mural.
“We really like tropical stuff and we’re really interested in travelling and other cultures and their patterns and painting so we try to take inspiration from a lot of stuff like that” she told me when speaking about the influences which go into the work of Animaux Circus. “We like Mexican painted walls and we like African patterns and all sorts of stuff like that. We like to do things which are quite jolly and upbeat because you don’t always feel that way especially in London on a day like this (it’s been raining a lot by the time we meet) and so we like to do stuff which just makes us and hopefully other people a bit happier when they look at it”.
It’s clear Lana really enjoys painting as part of a trio and the synergy present in the work of Animaux Circus is clear to see when the finished work is presented knowing that the work of three people has gone into it. Intriguing then to see what Lana will produce as a solo artist, albeit for just one event initially, but with scope to experiment even more as she plans to find the ideal balance of individual expression and group dynamism.
The second article in the Inspiring City series of interviews looking at Female Street Artists, Lana Alana was interviewed at her studio in Stoke Newington on Tuesday 28th January. She will be taking part in the Femme Fierce Leake Street takeover on Saturday 8th March 2014, International Women’s Day.