The current character of choice is toast! Literally, it’s toast! Flying toast, toast with cheese, toast on cardboard, toast is everywhere and is the latest in the production line of fun cartoony characters from the mind of London based artist Kayleigh Doughty otherwise known as Artista.
In fact get there early enough and you might even get a piece free because Artista is making some limited edition toasts for people visiting the opening night of the Femme Fierce all female street art group show at the Cre8 Gallery in Hackney Wick.
Opening on Friday 7th March 2014, the group show is the first in a series of events celebrating female street artists and street art. The day after, Artista will be taking part in a record breaking attempt in the Leake Street tunnel near Waterloo to try and produce the worlds largest collaborative spray painted mural. Both events promise to be epic and Artista will be at the heart of both.
But for now, it’s toast… literally! We are sitting supping lattes in the Driftwood Cafe on Trinity Buoy Wharf, a container cafe just on the edge of a modern day container city which houses over 120 artist studios. The tables are blackboards and the cafe provides chalk and pens, it’s the perfect setting to sit and talk and draw.
Kayleigh has become well known for her ability to produce large scale surrealist murals in a cartoonist style. Her work can often be seen around the walls of Shoreditch, Stockwell and areas around Croydon where she went to school. She’s also a frequent collaborator, last year producing large street works with the likes of Irony, Deco and Binty Bint and more recently creating a number of pieces with Amara Por Dios. “I love being around other people and in other peoples company especially when they are artists as well and we are able to link up into a collaborative style piece” she tells me.
Over the years her work, which she describes as “cartoon surrealist” has evolved into the distinctive style it is now which has it’s roots in the New York lettering culture of the 70’s and 80’s a style she describes as 2D Hip Hop. Although she doesn’t describe herself as a graffiti writer, a number of people on that scene enjoy her work because of the various nods back to that form of street culture.
Art was always something she did growing up “I’ve done fine art, portraiture and landscapes with oils” she told me. Her inspirations are the world around her as she observes different scenarios and tries to put a comical twist to it. Her trademark character, is a little triangle person with legs and a large eye which has developed into what could be described as her ‘tag’. “It just evolved from the ‘A’ for Artista” she told me “I couldn’t do an A character but I could do something that represented the shape of an A, whack an eye on it with some legs and run with it”.
She will have five pieces on show at Hackney Wick’s Cre8 Gallery alongside other female artists such as Zina, Stephanie Thieu, Boxhead, Ashes57, Girls On Top Crew and of course Amara Por Dios. It’s something that she is looking forward to being a part of and she likes how the exhibitions whole focus is just about showcasing the work of female artists. Then the day after the opening on Saturday 8th March she is looking forward to seeing who she will be paired up with to help try and break that spray paint mural record with money raised from the event going towards Breast Cancer Awareness.
Other projects are in the pipeline too, our meeting at Trinity Buoy Wharf was to link in with author Garry Hunter and his community arts project Fitzrovia Noir to create a public art space on the side of the Bell Pub in Aldgate. The theme is to be heroes and villains and Artistas mind was already beginning to work overtime with thoughts on what surrealist wonders she could add to the side of the venue. It’s a fantastic project and already one which has attracted the likes of Paul Don Smith, Gee Street Art and the enigmatic Six One Six.
But for now, we are supping lattes and drawing toast. We have moved on from chalk toast on the table into a doodle of flying toast in my little black book of sketches. Even now she takes in the environment around her, temporarily losing herself in the drawing, adding buildings over the river and incorporating her little one eyed triangle character sitting cross legged on the toast as it flies around firmly engrossed in that cartoon surrealist world.
The third part in the Inspiring City series of interviews celebrating the work of female street artists, Artista was interviewed in Trinity Buoy Wharf on Saturday 1st March 2014. She will be taking part in the Femme Fierce Group Show at the Cre8 Gallery in Hackney Wick which runs from Friday 7th March 2014 and also the Femme Fierce Leake Street Takeover on Saturday 8th March. The other two interviews in the series with Lana Alana and Steffi Bow can be seen be clicking on the links