Image by Lano­Media

Back in the 90’s when I was com­plet­ing my art found­a­tion at Cent­ral St Mar­tins, I used to hang out in a book shop on Long Acre in Cov­ent Garden. I’m from one of those for­tu­nate gen­er­a­tions who had a Stu­dent GRANT to spend on resources for col­lege — which now could be con­sidered lux­ury items — such as art mater­i­als and books.…Within this book­shop one day, I stumbled across both ‘Spraycan Art’ & ‘Sub­way Art’ (Henry Chalf­ont & Martha Cooper), I imme­di­ately pur­chased them, took them home and in an inspired stance, star­ted adapt­ing my styles and tech­niques to improve on my pre-exist­ing ‘bubble writ­ing’! My dad pro­ceeded to give me some mark­ers and I was in a new ele­ment of cre­ativ­ity!

I not only absorbed the imagery in the books, but read and learnt about the rules and shared respect between writers and tag­gers out there cre­at­ing art in the envir­on­ment. Yes, art! This was a time waaaay before the now renown term ”street art” was deemed a more widely accept­able format of visu­al artist­ic expres­sion. I’m shar­ing this because when I saw CES’s recre­ated pieces at this exhib­i­tion, I was imme­di­ately taken back to the love I had for those books.

Hip Hop cul­ture — of which graf­fiti is an ele­ment — is guarded care­fully, we can see when people try to piggy­back off its strength of unity and indi­vidu­al­ity without genu­ine interest in its core roots and val­ues. I do find it tedi­ous that things become accept­able when people in more pro­nounced pos­i­tions claim they ‘dis­covered’ them, it seems then they get the gen­er­ic ‘OK’, it ‘trends right now’ and per­meates into fash­ion, gets watered down, com­mer­cial­ised then often loses its raw­ness and authen­ti­city, while at the same time becomes accep­ted — quite bit­ter­sweet! We will not allow Hip Hop to become diluted!
I cer­tainly had some reser­va­tions, and at the same time great hope regard­ing the exhib­i­tion ‘Bey­ond the Streets’. When any­thing as magic­al and grass roots as Hip Hop cul­ture enters into the cor­por­ate arena, we have to won­der at the motiv­a­tion behind it, and if it will be authen­tic­ally, thor­oughly, and fairly rep­res­en­ted? Or will it be pat­ron­ising to those who have some know­ledge — as I found the Bob Mar­ley exper­i­ence to be (albeit hav­ing fun ele­ments!)

In the steps toward accept­ance and embrace­ment, we also con­sider being open to the oppor­tun­ity to share, inform and indeed edu­cate oth­ers about the beauty of the things we love and oth­ers may have missed out on, if just for that glim­mer of relat­ab­il­ity, and under­stand­ing — even if it is a del­ic­ate line.

In the build up to the event I saw posters pop­ping up on the walls around Lon­don fea­tur­ing a young black man in a stance with a ghetto blaster equipped with spray cans (which dis­ap­point­ingly is not the image fea­tured on the exhib­i­tion souven­ir cata­logue — Mal­colm McClar­en got that cov­er shot)

What made me more curi­ous to attend was due to my social media circle post­ing pics and videos the morn­ing after what looked like a cool pre­view party, which gave me excite­ment as to what could be.…(plus a sign up to sub­scribe to updates!) See­ing that Mode 2’s art was included sealed the deal for me — always a pleas­ure to see his work, so much so, the night I went I wore the tee he designed for 4ourPillars in unity!

Let’s get to it: This exhib­i­tion fea­tures 100+ artists from around the world. It is vast to say the least! It’s the third ver­sion of the exhib­i­tion from the move­ment “Bey­ond The Streets” which has run in LA & New York City so far. The Saat­chi has 14 gal­ler­ies — or I’d say for this gig — zones — to travel though, you will find an array of resources reflect­ing the influ­ence of graf­fiti and street art; hip hop music, fash­ion, install­a­tions, fly­ers & archives of mem­or­ab­il­ia (my favour­ite bit).

CES by Lano­Media

You will encounter large scale art­work pro­duced for the exhib­i­tion — well you can­’t get a New York sub­way train with Dondi’s spray can art into a gal­lery in 2023 with ease! In con­trast small keep­sakes, and scaled down rep­res­ent­a­tions of the sub­ject mat­ter; such as the mini train car­riages painted by Tim Con­lon (cute). Walls of fly­ers span­ning time, Adi­das cloth­ing and foot­wear, gold chains and records, tapes, con­cert tick­ets 8 Ball jack­ets. The exhib­i­tion touches on the his­tory of move­ments such as punk, and how extreme fash­ion fed [feeds} into pop­u­lar cul­ture, fea­tur­ing a quite impress­ive repro­duc­tion of Ron West­’s Duck Rock Boom­box which fea­tured on Mal­colm McClar­en’s album cov­er.

You will pass through zones of widely vary­ing styles — I par­tic­u­larly liked HuskMit­Navn’s sec­tion, and the way his art scales down so well, and an artist after my own heart incor­por­at­ing the frame, and torn paper into the art pieces cre­ated.
There are some really immers­ive exper­i­ences includ­ing what I refer to as the Glitch room — which has a warn­ing sign as you enter; get ready for a floor to ceil­ing blur zone, with art by Felipe Pantone, lead­ing into a very tra­di­tion­al look­ing Ral­ph Lauren shop install­a­tion fea­tur­ing PESTO’s ‘Lauren will you Marry me?’ state­ment art.

You will also find a giant lego crime scene (fun twist) and not for­get­ting the widely social media high­lighted make­shift record store and junk shop (which I did­n’t get time to explore!)

Ele­ments of good con­tent in con­trast to try­ing to fill space at times, the repro­duc­tion paint­ings felt a little unau­thent­ic in areas, but I guess that’s what you get when you take it off the urb­an land­scape and into a gal­lery — you lose the met­al, bricks and torn paper…I appre­ci­ate the effort made!

If you go early in the day­time, that will allow you plenty of time to absorb it all if, like me, you love this era, and like to pay atten­tion to detail.

I did get rather taken in by the Beast­ie Boys mem­or­ab­il­ia I have to say, includ­ing numer­ous ver­sions of poten­tial logos drawn out on paper and tippexed out lines — I love a sketch­book! Plus gig tick­ets, lyr­ic sheets and back­stage passes — now this is the raw­ness I wanted to see, the his­tory, nos­tal­gia, the build­ing blocks…

I would recom­mend the Fri­day lates although time is restric­ted to a 3.5 hour slot, you get to exper­i­ence a live DJ spin­ning on the bridge/mezzanine floor for your audio pleas­ure; it was lovely to hear DJ P play­ing De La Soul [R.I.P Dave] and hear­ing Apache’s ‘Gang­sta B&$£ch’ was a real throw­back tune rever­ber­at­ing round the gal­lery at one point, remind­ing me of col­lege days again! Plus there’s oppor­tun­ity to join art work­shops — a draw­ing ses­sion was hap­pen­ing upstairs when I vis­ited, the focus on draw­ing move­ment — so a lil more for your money here!

Mode2 by Sal Freckles

By the time I reached to top floor, dis­cov­er­ing more of a UK his­tory archive of music and underground/tube graf, along­side the Adi­das garms, and I was drawn into read­ing a giant Win­dows note­pad prin­tout describ­ing the war on graf­fiti in London…time was run­ning out, secur­ity were circ­ling the last ones stand­ing to encour­age us to make our way down­stairs, I quickly swooped round the corner and my eyes feasted on anoth­er three Mode 2 pieces, I snapped a pic with the non smil­ing guard look­ing on (!) and left with a bid to return.

Def­in­itely worth check­ing out and not one for the skim read­ers… give your­self to time absorb it!

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
Sally Mur­row aka Sal­freckles is a Lon­don­er who works in early edu­ca­tion, she has a back­ground in graph­ic design and finds inspir­a­tion for her art from hip hop rhymes and cul­ture.

About Salfreckles

Sally Murrow aka Salfreckles is a Londoner who works in early education, she has a background in graphic design and finds inspiration for her art from hip hop rhymes and culture.