London Art Spot: Orban Wallace

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Have you seen the fun new “Skateseeing” videos? There’s one that features someone on a skateboard cruising through East London (below), which I love. Anyway, Orban is the film director for the project, one of the creative minds behind what is going to be a whole series of “skateseeing” clips in different destinations around the world. I decided to take some time to pick his brain about making this intimate video of East London and his career in general.

Below, Orban talks about working on one of the Harry Potter films, a random keyboard player in Shoreditch and a favourite London discovery that I have not yet had the pleasure to visit. 

LLO: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. Where are you from originally, how long have you lived in London and what brought you here?
OW: I’m originally a country boy, growing up in the wilds of Dorset in a very remote cottage. I lived there until I was 18, before deciding I needed to travel the world. I was always fascinated by film and from an early age began to make films with friends at school and college, using our rural location to come up with Blair Witch-style horror movies and films about poaching.

On returning from my travels, I had somehow wangled a job on the Harry Potter 6 film as a runner in the VFX department, through a family friend. I moved to Hemel Hempstead to work at the studios in Leavesden. I was really thrown in the deep end and had to learn very fast how to work in a department which I previously knew nothing about, in a fast-paced and streamlined production. It was an amazing insight into the top end of the film industry. I learnt a wealth of knowledge about all aspects of production and had an incredible time exploring the world of Harry Potter, constantly finding excuses to escape the office and find a way down to the sets and the action. We then moved to Soho for post production. I moved to Old Street and gained my first experience of London life, in particular East London: the joys of Brick Lane, Broadway Market and the late night party scene in Shoreditch.

I have just returned to London now after spending the last four years in Brighton completing a film degree at Sussex University and establishing my own production company with three close friends.

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LLO: You recently made two videos for HotelClub – one in Brighton and the latest in East London – for a series called ‘Skateseeing’. What’s the vision behind this project? Why skateboards? Is Skateseeing something people can get involved in?
OW: We made these videos when Matt Lindley of HotelClub.com got in touch with us to create a series of travel videos showcasing alternative destinations in the UK and further afield. Cruising around on a skateboard seemed like a really natural way to explore these areas. It gives the audience the experience of gliding through these spaces, picking up the details of the characters and lifestyles, which characterize what makes these places unique.

We welcome other people to make their own Skateseeing movies, and in fact I think that’s where the series is heading to next!

Click the image below to watch the East London video:

Skateseeing

LLO: What are some of your favourite places that feature in the London video? What do you like about them?
OW: I love the markets, the hustle and bustle, people watching, the smells and the banter. My favourite place is the canals on a sunny afternoon, and the atmosphere of everyone hanging out.

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LLO: Tell us how your career has progressed. What have been some of the key highlights so far?
OW: After a year as a runner on the Harry Potter film, I decided I wanted to try my hand at producing my own films. I began a filmmaking degree at Sussex University, and embarked on my first documentary, an observational film following the notorious climate camp activists. The main subject of the film was the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, which saw thousands of activists descending on the city for a week of madness. It was an intense week, trying not to get arrested and learning how difficult it was to film in minus conditions in very volatile protest situations. We survived and came out with our first film, Copenhagen the Musical.

I continued as a freelance filmmaker making numerous films, before collaborating on my first short narrative, with the incredible guys I work with now. The creativity, tireless nights and laughter that went into our first film together is really what inspired us all to form the company we run now, Gallivant. Gallivant specializes in music videos and commercial content and have made films across Europe, our last being a ski promo in the French Alps, which was alright! We are now in the process of developing our first feature film.

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LLO: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your work? And the most rewarding?
OW: The most challenging is always the endless amount of work which goes into pre-production and planning. Learning to be a seamless multi-tasker is what’s hard, but this is what makes a good producer. Directing, filming and being on the shoot are always great, especially by the time you’ve planned some weird and wonderful concept and you’re hanging off the top of a fishing trawler, with your friend performing a live music video, as cuttlefish and ink fly past your head.

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LLO: Tell us about a memorable encounter you had with a Londoner while filming Skateseeing East London.
OW: The old guy dressed sharp as nails, playing the eeriest music on his Casio keyboard, was a welcome surprise as we passed under the bridge next to Shoreditch Overground Station.

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LLO: How did you choose the music for the video?
OW: I was driving, listening to an old mix CD when this song came on, and it just clicked for me. I’d been a bit stumped beforehand as to what tone and mood to go for, but this song just had that groove and pace which I felt would really work. Amazingly, the artist GUTS, a renowned French trip hop producer, was cool for me to use it when I wrote to him. We have now established a working relationship and I’ve used more of his tunes for other projects. It regained my faith in how it’s always worth it, just to ask.

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LLO: What’s been your best East London discovery?
OW: Picking up vegetables at Ridley Road market and sitting on the locks at sunset.

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LLO: Where is the Skateseeing series heading to next?
OW: There’s a Sydney video currently in the pipeline, then there’s talk of us flying to the Philippines to shoot one in Manila. After that it remains a mystery!

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Thanks Orban!

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London Art Spot: Martin Usborne

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Remember those powerful images of lonely dogs starting out of car windows into dark and rainy nights? That was one of Martin’s photography projects. Now he’s put together another series, this time focusing on East London with the result a collection of books on various topics. One I’m most looking forward to follows the story of 86 1/2 year old Joseph Markovitch who, according to Martin’s Kickstarter page for the project, “Joseph Markovitch has left London only once, to go to the seaside with his mother. He loves Nicolas Cage, has five sugars in his tea, would have married a six foot two Hispanic woman but in the end had bad chest catarrh and never had a girlfriend.” Below, he talks a bit about how he first met Joseph, what to expect from this new project and his most memorable East London smell.

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LLO: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
MU: I’m from North London originally, but now feel very much that East London is my spiritual home. I’ve lived here for about 12 years and can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s constantly changing and developing.  I love walking our dogs around the area.

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LLO: One of your most well known photography projects is the powerful series of images called The Silence of Dogs in Cars. The images are quite dark, yet look like they’re out of a dream. What is the process of creating these images?
MU: I wanted to create something a little other worldly. This meant a huge amount of preparation, lighting and planning. Each dog had to be matched to each car to each location and then we used up to four lights. This gave it a cinematic feel that took it out of the everyday.

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LLO: Share a story of a memorable encounter between you and a Londoner with their dog that you met while working on Dogs in Cars.
MU: One shot required having four huskies in a car who were incredibly excitable. It took place at 11pm outside a set of council flats and they moved so much they kept hitting the horn. The only thing that calmed them down was hanging some ham in the air and playing Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2U” from another car and at high volume. We got the shot but the neighbours were bemused to say the least.

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LLO: You used Kickstarter to help fund the Dogs in Cars book. Now you have another project – books about East London – also being funded through Kickstarter. In five sentences or less, what is this new project all about?
MU: It’s about making beautiful books that celebrate the creativity and character of East London. There are so many fascinating untold stories here – and so many creative photographers, illustrators and artists to help tell those stories. I’ve always loved books as well as photography and illustration and this is a way to bring it all together. I feel that East London has an appeal far beyond it’s boundaries.

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LLO: Tell us the story of Joseph Markovitch. Who is he and how did you meet?
MU: I met him one day just walking through Hoxton Square. He always likes to talk to strangers. I assumed he was homeless or drunk – he was neither. In fact he belonged more to the area than any of the young media types lounging in the sun. I realised he had a unique and fascinating view of an area that was changing so quickly. We became friends and I charted his life. The book was a by product of this but did so well I thought a publishing company producing books like this would be viable.

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LLO: How did your relationship with Joseph lead to him becoming the subject of one of your books – “I’ve Lived In East London For 86 1/2 Years”? What can we expect from this volume?
MU: I realised he was totally both totally unique but also very tender and funny too. A powerful combination. I started just by taking portraits but then realised his words told as good a story as his face.

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LLO: What other books on East London are in the works? When will they be published? Will you do a West London series as well? 
MU: No, I very much want to focus on East London.  That is what I know and love. We are already planning a book about East London wildlife – a sort of pastiche on early explorer etchings of new creatures – and a book about the people who swim in winter at the Lido (by Madaleine Waller). We are also doing a book about East London foxes.

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LLO: What are the biggest lessons that you’ve learned about yourself and the world around you through your photography projects?
MU: That you have to be your own motor. You only get things done with a lot of self-drive. But also that your own way of seeing the world is as valid as anyone else’s can ever be.

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LLO: When you think of the London that you know best, what comes to mind when I say:
MU:
Sight – Hipsters burning small holes in London fields with their BBQ sets
Sound – Taxis
Smell – Coffee mixed with morning air mixed with a hint of pollution
Taste – Breakfast at the Pavillion in Victoria Park
Texture –  Rough tarmac under my bike wheels

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LLO: What’s your favourite London discovery?
MU: There’s a small observatory up at the top of Hampstead Heath that I went to some years ago. I am not sure it is there any more but it’s run by a volunteer and there is an incredibly old telescope that allows you to see the stars as they might have done many years ago. Very beautiful.

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Thanks Martin!

For more from Martin, visit his website or support his latest East London book project through Kickstarter.

Photographing London’s Petticoat Lane Market

Petticoat Lane Market is messy.

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It contains boxes and tables and racks full of cheap clothes from “Top Shop, Asos and Urban Outfitters” etc, mobile phone covers, granny panties and saggy bras, tourist souvenirs and heaps of shoes.

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But it’s colourful and it’s one of the oldest markets in London.

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Just around the corner, when you enter from the Liverpool Street end is a building covered in work by street artist Ben Eine (who also spray-painted the entire alphabet on a long series of shop shutters on this street in 2010).

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Petticoat Lane as a street has been trading fabrics and fashion since 1608. The main road is actually Middlesex Street now, its name changed by the Victorians who felt it was a bit too risqué, or so the story goes.

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Sir Alan Sugar started his business career in a stall in Petticoat Lane Market, boiling and selling beetroot for a bit of extra cash.

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It was also prime Jack the Ripper territory as is memorialised in the Jack the Clipper barber shop just on the outskirts of the market area on Toynbee Street. But don’t be scared. It was named one of London’s coolest independent hairdressers by TNT.

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The market, and this whole area around Petticoat Lane, Spitalfields and Brick Lane and beyond attracts stunningly diverse crowds. It feels like a true global city. You could be anywhere in the world; it’s as if the whole world has gathered here.

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Music pumps through speakers on tables that are selling rows and rows of used CDs, “Who Let the Dogs Out” the featured sounds as I walked by, a few people in the street tapping their feet and bobbing their heads.

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Across the way, there’s a nut seller, which made me think of Christmas. You could smell them from a few stalls down – the smoky, woodsy scent of open fire.

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This man selling a variety of lipsticks was one of my favourite shots of the day.

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In the distance, the City and the Gherkin loom over brick council houses and the conglomeration of market tables.

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Vendors cry their sales: “Just a fiver. Get your designer goods for just a fiver! Come on ladies!”

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It’s a market full of life where people make a living from old fashion trading and locals stop by to bag a bargain without encountering the fluorescent lights of Primark.

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It’s also an interesting area to walk around when the market is not in full swing. The permanent shops along the pavement have names like “African Queen Fabrics” and “Cockney Touch Clothing”.

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I’m not sure how long they’ve been around, but dotted along the pavement are painted hats, shoes and other items that are for sale in the market.

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It’s not a very big market and I reached the other side before long. But first I took a little detour down Toynbee Street where I found the Jack the Clipper shop.

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It’s a pretty run down area, full of rubbish and derelict buildings, weathered posters peeling off of walls.

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Some of the posters looked more freshly pasted.

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But it also has what may just be a hidden gem covered in graffiti – Mama Thai, which has great reviews on Yelp despite questionable outward appearances! Has anyone ever eaten there?

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When I reached the end of Petticoat Lane Market, I walked on toward the just as colourful and diverse Brick Lane, but more photos from there soon!

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Hope you’re all having a great Monday! What did you get up to this weekend? Anything interesting? Was anyone else around Brick Lane? I seem to have stocked up the old Instagram account a bit and did some baking on Saturday afternoon when the rain started (If you can handle it, look for a recipe for Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting on my other blog Little Observationist later today around lunch time…!).

Broadway Market and Regents Canal

It was another sunny Saturday last weekend, so Jorge and I ventured East for the second time in two days. Last Friday night we went to the pop up night market in Haggerston called Street Feast, which I didn’t take any photos of, but it was fun until it got too chilly in the late night air. We had New York style hot dogs (which weren’t really…) and I enjoyed a “mahoosive mojito” (which had mahoosive price of £10 and was a normal sized drink).

I haven’t been to Broadway Market in ages, so since we had a long and sunny Saturday stretched ahead of us, we decided to explore the natural habitat of London’s urban hipster. It’s prime street art territory around there as well, so without even looking for it, I ended up taking a few photos on the way.

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P1000249Photo: D7606

P1000250Photo: Mr Penfold & Sweet Toof

Also along the way, across from rows of condensed housing is the creepy looking God Worshipers Ministry. The Love Renewal Centre.

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And then the two giant bird pieces, a collaboration between by Irony and Boe, one right outside the market and one on the edge. They also recently created this amazing fox on Waldegrave Road in Turnpike Lane not long ago.

P1000253Photo: Irony & Boe

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The market was pretty crowded but nowhere near as packed as Portobello or Brick Lane. It’s much smaller anyway. Plus, for the moment anyway, it tends to draw Londoners rather than tourists.

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There was a bit of live music.

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And more on the other end.

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We walked by the shop that is something of an institution, F. Cooke which has been selling traditional pies, mash and jellied eels for well over 100 years.

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I love it when shops use their signs for quotes and poetry or a bit of humour rather than advertising or boring menus.

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We spent some time in one of the best art and design bookshops in the area – Artwords (which made my list of favourite independent shops in London a while ago). We left with two new piece of inspiration for our bookshelf. The first was Creative Space: The Urban Homes of Artists and Creatives which shares images and interviews with people in Barcelona, Berlin, London, New York, Paris and Toyko. The other one is a London Design Guide which I haven’t looked through yet but seems to have a lot of good suggestions in it for food, shopping, etc. split by some popular areas of the city.

Outside again, the sun was beaming down and people were making the most of it, coats off, sunglasses on, lounging around.

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There are bikes everywhere around here.

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Wandering through the market, the food looked and smelled pretty delicious. There seemed to be quite a few free samples passed out as well.

There was roasted hog.

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Fresh Salmon folded onto slices of home baked bread.

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Buckets full of olives.

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Fresh bread.

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Stacks of cheese.

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Veggies.

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Dried meat.

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Takeaway lunch.

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Or find a table nearby.

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Wash it down with some juice, or there are plenty of pubs in the area. Take your pick from the Cat and Mutton, the Dove Freehouse & Kitchen or Broadway Market.

P1000278Photo: Entrance to The Cat & Mutton pub

Lots of coffee shops too. Climpson & Sons is rumoured to be one of the best but it was packed so we didn’t go in. Also Wilton’s on Wilton’s Way nearby has a good reputation, uses beans roasted at Climpson & Sons and has fewer crowds.

There’s racks of £5 vintage dresses, and lining the street behind the market are other trendy clothing shops, second hand shops and vintage shops. Hipster fashion galore and plenty of sartorial inspiration in the streets as well. People watching is brilliant around here.

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And of course there’s flower stalls.

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Jewellery.

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We had lunch in the Turkish Solche Grill and Meze Bar on the corner near the canal.

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Food was good, prices were cheap and we sat under a giant skylight where we could feel the sun, but the service was slow and scattered and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for that reason. The had some fun drippy candles though.

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Interestingly, while trying to remember the name of the place I read this article about shots being into the restaurant in August last year. A little reminder that despite the relatively recent gentrification of this area, it still has another side to it!

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After lunch, the sun beckoned and we took a two-mile walk down Regents Canal to Islington.

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There were flowers in bloom and people sat along the water watching the canal boats pass, many of them on phones, of course…

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We followed one boat floating along at walking pace for quite a while.

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The architecture along the trail is a strange mix of modern and crumbling, council flats, cottages and office blocks as well as some newly developed buildings with retail space.

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There was a stretch with some beautiful prunus trees in blossom.

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Bikes everywhere, people running, dogs on walks and babies in prams, there was plenty of traffic on the narrow stretch of pavement between the wall and canal. And it was quite windy, as you can see from my lion mane hair!

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Houseboat life might be interesting for a while, simple, pared down to the basics.

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Boots for planters and such.

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And with a pretty view!

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All in all, a beautiful place to spend one of the first days of real Spring in London!

London Street Art Catch Up

Judging by the number of photos in the Flickr pool, it’s been a while since I last posted a street art update!

On a side note, I was hanging out in my favourite King’s Road juice bar, Joe & the Juice, the other day catching up on my gigantic stack of untouched magazines from the last few months. To highlight the fact that the creative, trendy center of London has seriously and undoubtedly truly shifted East, a map that Lonely Planet included with an article on fun stuff to do in London had Hyde Park (which was once considered quite a central landmark) all the way to the left side of the map with London Bridge more or less the central point and everything listed in their article of fun measured by a series of dots scattered around the East.

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For someone who lives in SW3, it’s kind of irritating to see all the best new shops, restaurants, etc, popping up East of Liverpool Street. Step it up West London. Rise to the competition of the creative East. Already tourists are coming to this city for the street art of East London, indulging in alternative walking tours around Shoreditch and Hoxton instead of congregating in Piccadilly Circus. Which is fine…

But we need a bit of re-invigoration over here. I’m going to go on a hunt for some new, innovative, creative stuff in the West. Suggestions welcome.

In the meantime, I give you the East and all its colorful canvas glory.

Street Art by Broken Fingaz, Hackney Wick - February 2013
Photo: Broken Fingaz by D7606.co.uk

Thierry Noir
Photo: Thierry Noir by Alex Ellison

C215
Photo: C215 by Steve Birch

Paste ups by D7606 and D3B, Brick Lane, Shoreditch - February 2013
Photo: Paste-ups by D7606 & D3B by D7606.co.uk

Untitled
Photo: Burning Candy Crew by Ewan

C215
Photo: C215 by Hookedblog

Ronzo
Photo: Ronzo by Steve Birch

Mouse what mouse
Photo: C215 by takphoto

Otto Schade, Shoreditch - March 2013
Photo: Otto Schade by D7606.co.uk

Ronzo
Photo: Ronzo by Alex Ellison

Paul Insect
Photo: Paul Insect by Alex Ellison

Accordion
Photo: C215 by takphoto

ALO
Photo: Alo by takphoto

TO LET
Photo: Pez by takphoto

616
Photo: 616 by Alex Ellison

Alo
Photo: Alo by Alex Ellison

Paul Insect
Photo: Paul Insect by Hookedblog

Low Bros x Mr.Penfold
Photo: Low Bros and Mr Penfold by Hookedblog

Id-Iom - Sclater Street, Shoreditch - March 2013
Photo: Id-Iom by D7606.co.uk

Irony, Sky High and Artista, Chance Street, Shoredtich - March 2013
Photo: Irony, Sky High and Artista on Chance Street by D7606.co.uk

Obit 616 Colab and D7606, Buxton Street, Brick Lane - March 2013
Photo: Obit, 616, D7606 by D7606.co.uk

Otto Schade
Photo: Otto Schade by Steve Birch

Rat...?
Photo: A rat by Steve Birch

Dale Grimshaw
Photo: Dale Grimshaw by Steve Birch

Shok-1 — Hearts & Minds
Photo: Shok-1: Hearts and Minds by Hookedblog

Pablo Delgado and Benjamin Murphy, Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch - March 2013
Photo: Pablo Delgado and Benjamin Murphy by D7606.co.uk

Osch AKA Otto Schade, St Pancras International Railway Station - March 2013
Photo: Not exactly outdoors, but this is street artist Otto Schade at St. Pancras International by D7606.co.uk

Too muchPhoto: Lister by takphoto

RUN
Photo: RUN by takphoto

C215 Diss Street – Hackney
Photo: C215 by Mickyh2011

C215 Couple
Photo: C215 by Mickyh2011

Work in progress  DANK
Photo: Dank work in progress by takphoto

Jonesy
Photo: Jonesy by Alex Ellison

Sweet Toof
Photo: Sweet Toof by Alex Ellison

Edwin featuring Sweet Toof
Photo: Edwin featuring Sweet Toof by Alex Ellison

Emeili Sande paste ups by D7606, Shoreditch - February 2013
Photo: D7606’s Emeli Sande paste-ups by D7606.co.uk

C215 London - February 2013
Photo: C215 by D7606.co.uk

Face
Photo: Otto Schade by takphoto

That’s it for now!