Opening up a book with a photo of some art with a stern looking military officer with the slogan “Art free zone by order of the Ministry of Misery: Free thought, self expression, creativity and enjoyment are strictly prohibited” is definitely a way to set out your stall when discussing street art, and is proceeded by a thought-provoking introduction which discusses the relationship of graffiti and street art and the general public’s views on both.
Hurtyoubad.com says that the media “celebrates ‘street artists’ because they appear to represent something universal and safe” whilst Panik from the ATG crew discusses why graffiti artists feel the need to distance themselves from the “trendy art students” which is a problem that this “street art” label brings about, especially with Banksy’s celebrated style fetching thousands of pounds from people with more money than sense.
So, on to the art within the pages, something which is celebrated, despite the part-cynical attitudes of the introduction and which are all found in the capital of England, a place that Pure Evil says has a “dirt that helps things grow”. Where a lot of art books look to print very vibrant photos with lots of colour filling the page, this book isn’t afraid to print big photos of dreary looking walls, because the art stands out on its own merits, because of the dreariness.
From stencils in Liverpool Street to paste-ups in N1 to the graffiti of Panik, Sickboy and Sweet Toof, this book showcases the wide-reaching styles of art and the environments that London pulls up for them. Of course there will be people who are sick of the snobs in the media legitimising certain types of art and demonising others, but this book shows that London has a way of giving so much to the eyes of everyone in the city.