Street art was once simply graffiti, a sign of decay that lowered property values. Fast forward to the transformation of London’s East End and it became cool.
Seen as ‘gritty’ and ‘edgy’, street art generates interest in an area. Refashioned, and made acceptable, it transforms public space as areas become high priced, trendy and attractive to the emerging creative class.
Its ‘edge’ and sense of ‘authenticity’ become a means to speed up gentrification. Yet as property prices rise, the high cost of living forces out those artists who created the art as well as the local residents.
Never was this truer than in London’s Shoreditch where these images are shot–an open-air show case of urban art that generates considerable tourism. Graffiti now appears in galleries and museums worldwide.
Artists who were once hoodied, hidden and nocturnal are out in the open, working in broad day light from cherry picker platforms.
Commissioned by corporate brands such as Adidas and Gucci they offer creative interventions into the urban landscape, images of coolness and affluence in murals destined to become Instagrammable propaganda.
In East Ended you see every code of cool fashion and attitude, along side scenes of poverty and people on the streets trading in anything but cool.
Gentrification has brought a numbing sameness. Yet look carefully and you’ll spot the cheeky protest posters political critique to climate change resistance purposefully plastered over and defacing the ads.
The voice of the streets is reclaiming its walls. Recognised as one of the UK’s leading photographers, Dougie Wallace has successfully published five previous books. He has been the subject of a 30 minute BBC documentary as part of the series What Do Artists Do All Day and has exhibited widely in Europe, the United States and India.