Walk around the canals and streets of East London and the chances are you’ll come across work from Frankie Strand. Her reptiles and flamingos in particular seem to be favourites, popping up in places where you least expect to see them.
We first met Frankie back in 2015 at the Femme Fierce street art festival in the Leake Street Tunnel. Originally from Essex she had not long been in London having just completed her studies in illustration and graphic design at Leicester. The festival would, it turned out, be one of the first times she would try her hand with a spray can.
Now I see her work everywhere, particularly on the canals of East London, in Shoreditch and in Hackney Wick. Frankie seems to be an artist that seeks out the least obvious of locations, the underside of a bridge, the interior of an abandoned warehouse or on the towpath of a canal. Certainly the placement of her street pieces seems to be something that she thinks about a lot.
“I really like abandoned places for the feeling that you’ve found something hidden…it just makes me want to paint in somewhere like that which has so much character” she tells me adding that pure white blank canvases are much less inspiring. “If you’ve got a cracked, crusty old wall in an abandoned house, it’s something to work with and around… I can’t paint canvases they’re just too… blank!”
We’ve decided to meet at Liverpool Street and have a wander across to Brick Lane with a view to taking in the street art and chatting on the way. She’s got a couple of pieces at the top end at either entrance to the Nomadic Community Gardens on Pedley Street, both collaborations. The first with Spanish artist Elno of a face wearing a snakeskin headdress and the second a piece featuring two flying flamingos with Sheffield’s Marcus Method, although as we approach this one has been heavily tagged.
Collaborations are clearly something she enjoys doing, not least because she enjoys the company but it’s also an opportunity to learn from others which helps her progression as an artist. Other recent collabs in addition to the ones in Shoreditch include pieces with the likes of the Real Dill, Morgasmik, Itaewon and Caroline Derveaux. One thing’s for sure her work is always unique.
As we talk Frankie tells me about her upcoming trip to Sri Lanka, a six week trip which could possibly go for longer. There she hopes to immerse herself in the culture, using her art to travel and to learn about the countries wildlife. Environmental concerns and the concerns for the welfare of animals are already an emerging theme in her work. In some some way she hopes that as her work develops it could be used as a platform to encourage others to think about environmental concerns.
Her painting though is also fun. She tells me about her love for bright colours and so uses a lot of pinks and greens as a contrast to those often grey walls. With her subjects meanwhile she talks about her passion for texture explaining how “snakeskin, crocodile skin, is just so aesthetically pleasing to me.” Luckily for us, it’s not just pleasing to the artist but it’s a fascination that has made Frankie Strand one of the most prolific and popular street artists working in London today.
Frankie Strand was interviewed on 7 January 2018 in Shoreditch. All photos have been taken over the past few years. This post is the first part of our ‘Six Degrees of Art‘ series where the artist recommends who we should interview next. Our next post in the series is with the Austrian painter HNRX.
Frankie Strand Gallery