The Wall: London’s most public art gallery

October 23rd, 2011 | By | 8 Comments »

Steve Powers, Malarky, Word to Mother, Dabs and Myla, and Best Ever exhibit on The Wall.

Little over a week ago I was watching Word to Mother painting his outdoor piece for Moniker Art Fair. Allocated one of the 3 by 4 metre recesses he took to the piece with gusto. Layer after layer of tag and dub was laid down and a day later, a final coat of white was rollered onto the wall.

Appropriately dubbed, “The Wall”, the expanse of brick along Great Eastern Street has played host to a variety of artists, both local and international. Dabs & Myla, Best Ever and Malarky followed Word to Mother, but I could also name drop Steve Powers, Herakut, Nychos, SheOne, Shep Fairey and Know Hope among others. However soon after an artist completes a piece it is buffed or covered by another artist, pretty much like any wall I suppose.

But Village Underground hope this will all change following a Kickstarter fundraising project. Their aim is to raise enough funds to design, build and install bullet proof metal and glass frames over the recesses to protect the art work from theft and vandalism. In essence this will allow for artists to produce work in a variety of methods and on a mix of mediums. And with the addition of a digital wall and 10 million passing cars a year, “The Wall” will become London’s most public art gallery.

In a way I feel its a bit of a shame that the wall will be covered, but I’m sure you will agree that the project will certainly be interesting. Plus Village Underground, despite indicating that the artists will now obviously be able to sell their work, maintain they are working on a not-for-profit basis. It’s good to see that this project isn’t just about making money for them then!

For more info, including a nice little video, and to donate head here.

Photo by AdversMedia

Category: Art News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
  • I’m not sure I’m buying it. Village Underground has been using that space as advertising space for years. Why change it now and turn it into a non-profit wall? Admittedly, VU have also done a lot of non-profit things over the years but this project very directly impacts their potential income negatively. Good for them I guess, it takes some balls to convert advertising space into something that they’ll have a much harder time profiting from (although presumably they’ll get some cut of the sales when the art sells).

  • Shower

    Whilst it has been used for advertising there has never been the addition of billboards like the rest of London.  So in that respect they have avoided selling out to an advertiser.  But as I said in my post, in some ways I feel its a shame that the wall is getting covered.  There is something nice about walking past fresh paint on brick without a glass covering.

    With regard to the income negativity, I suppose that all comes down to their marketing.  If they attract a variety of art based shows and artists to produce work for the wall spaces then they could attract a huge crowd.  Plus you have to take into account that adding frames over the recesses does not remove the possibility of adding advertising displays.  The spaces are the same, they will now just be covered.

    But whilst I feel that covering the wall is a bit of a shame it would be quite nice to see artists producing work on canvas or other mediums that can be viewed by walking or driving past.  There is something cool about not having to enter a gallery space or having to research where a gallery is located and its opening hours before attending.  In a weird way it is sort of returning (street) art back to the general public.

    I’m backing the project simply because if it’s managed well it could become a true 24 hour public art gallery.

  • Nolionsinengland

    This propsal is BS.  There is no obvious problem being solved by this, I’ve seen all those names and many more over the past couple of years and they have always been permissioned gigs and they rarely if ever get dogged.  A high proportion of the stuff has been blatantly commercial, like the various film and game launches, drinks promos,  and event advertising.  This scheme looks like a covert attempt to increase the advertising value of the site through the improved display media.  Down with art, up with commercial cashflow generating advertising, welcome to Shoreditch!

  • Redsquirrrel

    at least then a new, beautiful Herakut wall won’t be destroyed by a converse ad !!!!

  • Spot on as usual Nolions.

    The video talks about how they’ve avoided turning the spot into a billboard, but what they’ve tended to do instead is use the wall as a space alternative between art and advertising-thinly-disguised-as-art, so that’s a misleading claim. This could be a cool project and a way to give non-street artists a way to show their work in a street-art like setting, but the first thing I would need to consider getting behind it is an assurance that these spots wouldn’t be used for advertising ever, except of course all the great free publicity that VU will get from having the project in the first place. Also, does renting VU out for an event mean that you have some say over what’s on display, as it does currently? Or will The Wall be separate from the space in that sense? Maybe it’s the pessimist in me, but it seems like VU are asking for donations to make a really expensive and potentially cool looking but entirely unnecessary addition to their building in order to make the space more generally desirable. Plus there’s the issue of your comfort level of having canvases that are for sale on The Wall rather than murals that are a more low-key form of advertising for the artists involved.

  • Or will it? VU should make clear if they are going to be selling any of the space on The Wall to advertisers and just how exactly the curation will work. The space alternated between art and ads before, so what’s to stop that from continuing?

  • Shower

    Interesting view NoLions.  If the spaces are used for art then fair play, but until the project goes ahead and we see the work we won’t know exactly what role advertising will play.  I imagined the spaces becoming a proper gallery were artists could display work outside the conventional art world.  But I agree with you are RJ on the advertising aspect.  If the project is a covert attempt to increase the commercialisation of the spaces to increase the advertising value then that’s a complete shame and I certainly wouldn’t want my name engraved into the wall!

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