My 2012 in review

2012 has been a busy year for me. I started a new job in August, which has kept me out of trouble, and I’ve been working hard outside of the day-job too, trying to get more freelance writing work and make more connections in the UK-Japan community in London and also with street artists in the UK. I haven’t written on AliMuskett.com as much as I would have liked to, but have been busy with Haikugirl’s Japan and Picturing England, my two main blogs.

Still, I’ve managed to post 54 times on AliMuskett.com and have received 15,487 views in total this year, which is wonderful! My top 5 posts in terms of views this year were:

1. Brainwashed in London (August 2012) – 932 views

Mr Brainwash

2. An interview with graffiti artist Paul “DON” Smith (April 2012) – 766 views

Street Art & Graffiti in Shoreditch - Don

3. Sex & the City? Do it yourself! (February 2012) – 312 views

Bleeker St

4. The locks of love…  (January 2012) – 233 views

Locks on the Brooklyn Bridge

5. Rave Art: Mr Brainwash & David Guetta know how to party (August 2012) – 213 views

David Guetta, The Queen, Prince Philip & Mr Brainwash!

As you can see, it’s been quite a year! I’ve really got into the street art scene in the UK, and hope to be able to meet up with some more artists next year and conduct a few more interviews. I’d also like to write more about London, because it really is an amazing place to live and there’s an awful lot going on here.

I’ve been looking at the handy annual report WordPress.com has produced for me, and was very interested to see that most of my readers this year have been from the UK, but that the US and Mexico (?!) are in second and third places, closely followed by Japan in fourth place and Spain and Canada in joint fifth place. It seems my blog is more international that I imagined, and I’m delighted to know that people all over the world are stopping by.

Wondering how people are finding my blog, I looked at the popular search terms which lead people to AliMuskett.com. The top five this year were all to do with the Big Egg Hunt, and yet my Big Egg Hunt post featuring photos of the 209 eggs I found hidden around London earlier this year didn’t quite make it into the top five posts (it was sixth, actually, with 178 views).

Anyway, enough of these statistics! Anyone who is following me on Twitter is probably wondering what’s got into this girl who used to hate stats so much at school, as this will be my third ‘2012 review’ post this afternoon! Thank you all for reading, whoever you are, and please do keep reading in 2013! Leave me some comments, introduce yourselves, suggest things you’d like to read about, and do get in touch if you’d like to discuss a review or interview, or some freelance writing work.

Happy New Year! See you in 2013!

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Urban Masters pop-up exhibition at Factory 7, Shoreditch

Until 18th November there is a fabulous pop-up exhibition called Urban Masters at Factory 7 in Shoreditch (13 Hearn Street, EC2A 3LS). The exhibition, organised by The Opera Gallery, showcases street and urban art by some of the greats, including Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Blek le Rat, C215, Sweet Toof, ROA and Ron English, to name just a few of the 33 artists involved. Urban Masters attempts to capture the feelings and experience of the artists who were invited to give their personal interpretation on the marks left by art history-makers. Proceeds from the show’s catalogue go to Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest human rights organisation.

Here are some of my favourite pieces in the exhibition:

C215

C215

Rone

Rone

Zeus

Zeus

Banksy

Banksy

Rone

Rone

Blek le Rat

Blek le Rat

Nick Gentry

Nick Gentry

Nick Gentry

Nick Gentry

GRIS1/DMV

GRIS1/DMV

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey

C215

C215

Joe Black

Joe Black

Here’s a video of the exhibition’s installation and opening night:


Paul DON Smith @ Graffik Gallery

Despite my general dislike of exhibitions of street art in galleries, I’m always curious to see if it can work and was quite excited to hear that Paul DON Smith had an upcoming exhibition. I’ve been a fan of DON’s work for a long time now, and walked to the gallery yesterday with my fingers crossed, hoping he wasn’t going to let me down.

Graffik Gallery

I needn’t have worried. Although DON’s work on the streets often works because of the location or surface, his art work is actually perfect for the gallery too. DON paints the most outstanding portraits, and his work really is the kind of art I would want to buy and hang on my walls.

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON’s famous ‘Banker’ image was also in abundance in the gallery…

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

As well as DON’s usual portraits, there was also a series of star sign themed pieces, with small lights inserted in them:

DON @ Graffik Gallery

I prefer his portraits but I can see how these pieces could be popular.

The centrepiece of the exhibition was this curious cupboard which I just couldn’t stop peering in…

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

DON @ Graffik Gallery

I’m not quite sure what the meaning of this piece was, and felt a little self-conscious in the tiny gallery staring into it on my own, but I loved looking at it. I wonder if this is what it looks like inside DON’s head…

My only criticism of the exhibition would be that there wasn’t enough space. I’d love to see DON’s work spread out a little more in a slightly bigger space, like perhaps the Pure Evil gallery or Stolen Space. But other than that – wonderful! DON is one of the hardest working street artists I know of, and he never disappoints.

DON’s solo show at the Graffik Gallery is open for another week – check it out while you can! For more information please visit graffikgallery.com and pauldonsmith.com.


Exhibition: Pablo Delgado at Pure Evil Gallery

Every time I’ve come across a piece of Pablo Delgado’s art on the streets I’ve felt excited, because it’s like discovering secrets. His work is tiny, and so easy to miss, which is such a contrast to a lot of street art which seems to be about being bigger and better than the last piece. When I heard that Pablo Delgado was going to be having an exhibition at the Pure Evil Gallery on Leonard Street I wasn’t sure if it would work. I like his art because I have to discover it, so I wondered if having it presented to me in a gallery would take away some of the magic.

I needn’t have worried.

Pablo Delgado’s exhibition is wonderful. In the ground level part of the gallery the work is nicely presented and fun to look at – I love these monkeys:

Pablo Delgado

And the display in the window is pretty cool:

Pablo Delgado

There are cardboard boxes scattered around the exhibition – make sure you look inside them!

Pablo Delgado

But it’s not until you step downstairs into the basement that the fun really begins.

Pablo Delgado

It’s like stepping into a magical world where little people really exist, and they’re everywhere.

Pablo Delgado

Pablo Delgado

A lot of the work retains the feeling of being on the streets, but there are also pieces in different styles, which work perfectly in a gallery. Like these people in vases of water:

Pablo Delgado

Pablo Delgado

And these wonderful reflection pieces:

Pablo Delgado

Pablo Delgado

I was quite fascinated by this dark room containing people in illuminated jars, too:

Pablo Delgado

Pablo Delgado

Delgado has used the gallery space really well, playing to the rough, urban style of the small space and its exposed brickwork. This isn’t an exhibition that would necessarily work in a big, shiny gallery like the Tate Modern, but it seems perfect for the space it’s in.

Pablo Delgado

Pablo Delgado is at Pure Evil Gallery, 108 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4XS until 28th October. For more information visit: pureevilclothing.com. It’s so good, I might go back for seconds…


Music in Pictures Contest: What a wonderful world

I’m in the mood for responding to blog themes today, so I’ve decided to participate in Autumn in Bruges‘s Music in Pictures Contest. Each week, Autumn in Bruges sets a theme based on a song, and this week’s song is “What a wonderful world”, originally recorded by Louis Armstrong. I also quite like Joey Ramone’s version:

So, with that in mind, here are my pictures on the theme of “What a wonderful world”:

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Dale Grimshaw

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Jo Peel

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by

Street art

I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ How do you do?
They’re really saying I love you

Alice

I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know

DON in Shoreditch

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Street Art & Graffiti in Shoreditch - Let's Adore & Endure Each Other

Oh yeah!


Brainwashed in London

Although I had the chance to check out Mr Brainwash‘s London show on Wednesday night, the official opening wasn’t until today. I heard on Saturday that the exhibition was opening at 2pm today, and that the first 250 people would receive signed prints. When I went on Wednesday, people didn’t start queuing until about an hour before, so this morning I got up and spent a lazy morning, thinking I would aim to get down to New Oxford Street at about 1pm. However… I was browsing Facebook while having my breakfast, when I noticed a picture on Mr Brainwash’s Facebook page showing that people were already lining up! It was only 9.40am…

I hesitated, but then figured I didn’t want to miss my chance and decided to get moving. I got to New Oxford Street at about 11.30 – two and a half hours before the doors were due to open.

Mr Brainwash

The Old Sorting Office, New Oxford Street

As I was leaving my house there was an almighty clap of thunder and it started to pour down. By the time I got to New Oxford Street it was raining really heavily and the weather was quite grim. I couldn’t believe people would really be waiting outside the Old Sorting Office in that weather, but they were, and they went right round the building! I followed the queue round and finally found the end, where I waited patiently, read, and chatted with the girls in front of me.

Just before 2pm Mr Brainwash came round to check out the queue:

Mr Brainwash

Mr Brainwash

He then Tweeted that there were at least 1,000 people in the queue!

I had no idea if I was in the first 250 or not, but people kept counting and saying 182, 210, 266… It seemed like the number of people in front of us was going up, and I really hoped the waiting was going to pay off.

Finally, at about 3.20pm, I got in… and I was number 237! Each person got given a Mr Brainwash spray can, which they could later exchange for a print (once Mr Brainwash had finished signing them all!).

Mr Brainwash

Mr Brainwash

I absolutely LOVE my print, and it was well worth waiting about four hours for! People are already selling them on ebay, but mine’s not going anywhere.

There were more pieces on display today than there were on Wednesday night, and the lighting was a bit better so I took a couple of hundred photos in the end. I don’t care what anyone says – I love Mr Brainwash’s work! Here are my top ten pieces, in no particular order:

Mr Brainwash

David Bowie

Mr Brainwash

David Bowie

Mr Brainwash

Starbucks spray can

Mr Brainwash

Salvador Dali meets McDonald’s

Mr Brainwash

Follow your dreams…

Mr Brainwash

Mr Brainwash’s Banksy

Mr Brainwash

Art for Dummies – a take on Banksy’s famous ‘man throwing flowers’

Mr Brainwash

Life-size London taxi souvenier

Mr Brainwash

This is a clever twist on a classic painting by Edward Hopper (thanks ypldn for reminding me of the artist’s name!)

Mr Brainwash

Mural

Mr Brainwash was around the whole time, signing posters and postcards (and pretty much anything you put in front of him), but I just couldn’t bear to queue any more.

Mr Brainwash

Mr Brainwash

I hadn’t eaten, and they’d taken my water off me at the door (they also asked if I had any pens in my bag when I was searched at the door, but luckily they didn’t spot the ones I had stashed at the bottom – hey, I’m a writer!), so after a good look around I decided to call it a day. I think I’ll go back for another round when it’s a bit quieter though, as the exhibition is on until the end of August. You can see my photos from today here, and photos from Wednesday night here.

For more information about Mr Brainwash and his London exhibition, please visit: www.mrbrainwash.com.


Rave Art: Mr Brainwash & David Guetta know how to party

If Andy Warhol is the king of pop art, I’d like to declare Mr Brainwash the king of ‘rave art’. I know this will be an unpopular opinion, but I really like what Mr Brainwash is doing, and his new exhibition at the Old Sorting Office in London is unmissable.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the opening night of the show – a collaborative event by Mr Brainwash and musician David Guetta. I had no idea what to expect. Was it going to be an exhibition and a simple private view with a bit of music in the background as I wandered around with a free glass of wine? Or was it going to be a full-on rave in a warehouse?

I’m still not sure what it was but, whatever it was, it was incredible (and my ears took a whole day to recover).

The entire ground floor was filled with huge Mr Brainwash artworks, ranging from “life-size” Star Wars figures made out of tyres to huge spray cans that looked like Campbell’s soup.

May the art be with you

Tomato Spray

As I entered the exhibition when the doors opened at 8pm, the first striking piece was a massive set of Olympic rings, made out of paint cans and stuck on the wall. Standing by the rings were men dressed up as members of the Queen’s Guard, and further along were more people dressed as Stormtroopers. Everyone was clutching Burn energy drinks, and judging by the dancing I saw from one of the soldiers later on, I expect they had quite a few! (The event was supported by Burn.)

Olympic Rings

Soldier

Stormtrooper

Club music was playing, and before long the DJ switched and Nicky Romero came on. People started to pay attention to the stage, but everyone was clearly waiting for Mr Brainwash’s co-star for the night, David Guetta, to take his place.

Nicky Romero

Nicky Romero

It was after 9pm when David Guetta came on – I lost track of time a bit actually, and it might have even been closer to 10pm – but he played right through until after midnight, when the event was supposed to end, playing just one more, and just one more – the crowd was relentless, and even I (not used to clubbing or staying out past 11pm) could have kept going.

David Guetta

David Guetta

Having been born at the beginning of the 1980s I was too young to appreciate ’80s pop and still slightly too young for the early ’90s rave scene. Instead I got stuck with the late ’90s and early 2000s – not the best period of music history. If I could choose to be 18 at a different time, I would almost definitely go for 1992 – the heart of the rave scene. On Wednesday night I felt I had come the closest to attending a real rave that I probably ever would. Even though the event was all aboveboard and commercially sponsored, I couldn’t help getting a rush of excitement and imaging I was doing something really underground. Not everyone got in – I heard there were around 1,700 people waiting to get in around 9pm and they were operating a one-in-one-out door policy – and I felt like I had been chosen to take part in something really special.

David Guetta, The Queen, Prince Philip & Mr Brainwash!

The whole event was filmed for David Guetta’s latest music video which I’ll be keeping an eye out for. I’m not sure when it will be released, but I do hope I might catch a glimpse of myself and my friends (we were at the front all night). Mr Brainwash was, of course, also filming and taking a lot of photographs. I actually saw him on the street before the event and took my picture with him.

Me & Mr Brainwash

Me & Mr Brainwash

I get irritated when people so easily dismiss Mr Brainwash’s work and say it’s rubbish. Often, the reasoning is based on the fact that he doesn’t produce a lot of the work himself (he has an army of people who do all the actual design and making – he’s just the ideas man), but I could name a lot of other artists who have teams working with them in the exact same way he does – Andy Warhol certainly did. The other thing people always say is that his work shows no originality, and that his ideas are clichéd, but that doesn’t bother me. His work is a bit clichéd I guess, but I like his messages – “life is beautiful”, “follow your dreams” and “you’re never too young to dream big”.

You're never too young to dream big...

For me, right now, this art is relevant. Mr Brainwash is telling us not to take our lives so seriously and to have a bit of fun while pursuing our dreams – what’s wrong with that? As for his images of famous people, such as the massive Kate Moss picture on the side of the Old Sorting Office , what’s not to like:

Mr Brainwash on the corner of New Oxford Street and Museum Street, London

Or a bit of David Bowie:

David Bowie

Or Obama dressed as Superman:

Superman Obama

Mr Brainwash’s work may not be the most original or groundbreaking art of all time, but it certainly gets your attention, if only due to the enormous scale of many of the pieces.

Mr Brainwash - David Guetta

This Artlyst review is worth a read, calling Mr Brainwash’s work “so bad it’s good” and “kitsch multiplied by twenty”. Whatever you think of Mr Brainwash and his art, I think you’d be a fool to miss this much-hyped exhibition, open from 5th – 31st August at the Old Sorting Office,  21-31 New Oxford Street, London WC1 (you can’t miss it – the whole outside of the building is covered in his work!)

Life is Beautiful

And, when you’re feeling cynical and judgemental about what Mr Brainwash is doing, just try to keep one phrase in mind: life is beautiful…

Elephant heart