When we’re down in The Smoke, the Lady in my Life and I perch in “edgy” Crouch End.
“Edgy” in the sense it has evolved a Waitrose supermarket (wow!) and a new Waterstones book-shop. Not to forget The Queens (one of north London’s surviving gin-palaces) and The Maynard (more pub-bistro, but wider choice of beer and better bogs). Add in a whole selection of coffee shop/eateries — personal favourite is Monkeynuts (nearest thing to a good American diner — named, by the way, because it was once a tyre-fitters). Everything any metropolitan yummy mummy with a seven-figure Victorian terrace could desire.
Eat yer heart out, ‘Ampstead.
That established, this post can truly begin.
Along the Caledonian Road (“The Cally”, per-lezze), and two stops past “Her Majesty’s Prison Pentonville” (as the audio in-bus announcement has it) the bus pulls in beside Faith Inc studios, outlet of yet another anonymous North London street artist, “Pegasus”.
“Pegasus” left his mark there on the wall of Faith Inc. It is now, wisely, protected by a thick acetate sheet:
Nip across to Camden, where Hungerford Road and York Way intersect, and there’s another “Pegasus” work:
All around Amy Winehouse’s old stamping ground of Camden, you’ll get graffiti attempts — but Fallen Angel shows how it should be done.
Nearly as good is “Bambi’s” in Bayham Street, Kentish Town:
I have found it hard, without the signature, stylistically to separate “Pegasus” and “Bambi” — though she seems a smidgeon closer to “Banksy” (and borrows shamelessly from Warhol, of course).
Why am I bothering with this?
Because in a way it has a strange importance.
“Tagging” has been a phenomenon and an eye-sore these several decades. As that regency novelist didn’t generalise: it is a truth internationally acknowledged, that a streetwise youth in possession of a spray-can must be in want of a wall.
In recent years the quality of such “vandalism” had improved exponentially. Competition is good.
Back in the street-art stone age, once the tagger had evolved bubble-lettering and a moniker, what mattered was size and location.
Then it became multi-colours.
Then it became more pictorial.
Then it became “art”, and the artist had to have a personal tweak. Around Shoreditch, in particular, a Mexican arrival, Pablo Delgado made his mark with Lilliputian figures at the base of his walls, casting long shadows across the pavement:
Make of that what you will. Around the time of the London Olympics, Delgado was adding street-walkers (“because everyone is selling themselves”):
And the last stage of this progress is the art becomes — not just “saleable” and tee-shirt-able — but exploitable by third parties. In London (perhaps inspired by the Belfast “mural” tours) one can now sign up to guided walks of the best street art in a particular ‘hood.
The once-“edgy” is now mainstream.