I’ve been ‘up north’ this week in Manchester as part of my new job (our head offices are there), and in between a shed load of intros and meetings I managed to find time to wander around the Northern Quarter, the city’s bohemian hub.
When it opened to a surprised public in late August, Banksy’s Dismaland was all over the British news. Some said the artist had become the gimmick themselves by harpooning the commercial world of theme parks in a way that arguably lacked depth and integrity. While Banksy’s work has always appealed to me (like most) it was more the appeal of the kitsch element of amusement parks that pulled me in. I am a massive fan of anything that if highly thematic, the most synthetic the better, With that in mind, an immersive sculpture art experience skewing the characteristics of the traditional British seaside experience in my old stomping ground of Somerset was hard to resist.
I’m very spoilt for street art living in Shoreditch, probably one of the most densely graffitti’d neighbourhoods in the world. But like many I am still drawn to seeking out destinations where the walls are used as a canvas to tell local stories or the best of international artists. In many parts of South East Asia interest in the medium is growing side by side with millennials who spent their teens embracing music and subculture. While there are a few great spots in the region to see this, Georgetown is the best example of street art being embraced citywide, not just in one neighbourhood. The capital of Penang island in Malaysia, Georgetown is a small hop of a flight over from Kuala Lumpur, or even Melaka which was the route I took.The island is known for it’s mixture of colonial shop fronts, clan jetties and vibrant modern life.
Sitting on a non-descript suburban road in Walthamstow is one of London’s greatest gems – God’s Own Junkyard, a cavern of neon signs comprising of the biggest collection outside of North America. Owned and run by artist Chris Bracey up until his death last year, the large warehouse showcases both his own work as the country’s foremost neon sign maker and other collected signs from across the country.
While in Bergen I checked out Karen Bit Vejles’s exhibition at the Bergen City Museum – Scissors for Brush – a collection of paper silhouettes set in enchanted themes of fairies, nature, mermaids and music. Below you can see some examples of this massive pieces – I definitely preferred the more unique pieces with throwbacks to folklore and old tapestries over the more formulaic ‘fairy’ styles which were a bit too girly for my tastes. This style of paper art, with a similar aesthetic to line drawing and etching, is definitely something I want to explore more of.