STREET ART DARK KNIGHTS
Published by Gold Coast City Gallery on the occasion of the exhibition
Signs of the time Gold Coast City Gallery 18 February – 9 April 2017 Collectors: Ken McGregor and Private Collection sourced by @StreetArtGlobe Exhibition Curator: Emma Collerton, Gold Coast City Gallery Graphic Design: Thomas Degotardi Photography Ken McGregor Collection: Philip Betts, Murray Betts Group Photography Private Collection sourced by @StreetArtGlobe: Laura Cusen, LAC MEDIA Printing: Heaneys Performers in Print, Gold Coast Copyright © Gold Coast City Gallery Copyright © All artworks the artists Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the Copyright owners. The exhibition curator would like to thank colleagues at Gold Coast City Gallery and The Art Centre Gold Coast for their assistance in making the Signs of the Time exhibition and associated Cultural Precinct activations come to fruition: Paul Auld, Scott McCaig (Batman), Stephen Baxter, Sharyn Brennan, Tracy Cooper-Lavery, EmmaJune Curik, Natalie Faulkner, Jen Gyles, Danny Hickey, Sarah Lewis, Richard Muecke, Greg Nowlan (Poss), Leigh Reading, Brad Rush, Kate Topperwien, Nicholas Williams and Sally Wright.
ISBN 978-0-9953694-1-2 Gold Coast City Gallery 135 Bundall Road Surfers Paradise QLD 4217 www.theartscentregc.com.au
The word on the street AKA The Foreword Welcome to the street-art inspired Signs of the Time exhibition and associated projects; the first truly collaborative and unified approach to programming at The Arts Centre Gold Coast. This project has allowed us to present extraordinary artists and important ideas in diverse and imaginative ways; as part of the new direction for the Gallery and the Art Centre to engage locally and globally and provide the scaffold for a future Cultural Precinct that is a place for everyone. This exhibition has been a ‘work-inprogress’ for several years through the tireless efforts of Assistant Curator Emma Collerton, and I am delighted that we have the opportunity and support to now make it a reality. The result is an exhibition outcome consisting of two internal gallery components and a number of external activations. I would like to express left: D*face | The Late Lord’s Prayer | 2011
my sincere thanks to art consultant and benefactor Ken McGregor whose collection of national and international street art including works by Banksy, Blek le Rat, and D*face has formed the core of the Signs of the Time exhibition and provided the platform for numerous activations to occur. The Gallery commissioned 16 national and local artists to create new artwork for the Foyer Gallery and my thanks go to artists 40/40 Creative, Lorraine Abernethy, Sarah Beetson, Beastman, Shannon Doyle, Claudio Kirac, E.L.K., Fuzeillear, HA HA, Libby Harward, Lister, Paul Parker, Johnny Romeo, Kiel Tillman, SK412 and Matthew Te Paea. Their artworks are for sale with proceeds going to the artists and their nominated charities. I am delighted to collaborate with artFido [www.artFido. com] and thank them for providing the international exposure for the artists to sell their artwork.
To coincide with the exhibition, we commissioned Sarah Beetson to design a skin wrap for a Fiat Art Car, proudly provided by Bruce Lynton Automotive Group. This project has provided numerous opportunities to extend beyond the Gallery walls and create new places for art within the Arts Centre grounds including two onsite work sheds identified as ‘blank canvases’ for internationally renowned street artists Numskull and Mike Maka to transform.
We have a sensational line up of programs for Signs of the Time which includes master classes, art battle, sticker slams, instameets and the Sign Off Street Party with live music, art, dance, skate and good times! For me, the excitement and commitment of the many staff involved across the Arts Centre has been invaluable. Thanks especially to the projects leads – Emma-June Curik, Emma Collerton and Sarah Lewis in realising this new collaborative vision.
I acknowledge the City of Gold Coast for their support in providing additional funding to develop and present our collaborative programs. This includes commissioning Kiel Tillman to paint three murals and a platform for Leonie Rhodes’s sculptures on the Art Centre Terrace; filming the transformation of the sheds with the outcome to be shown in the Foyer Gallery; and the opportunity to partner with renowned skate events company Stoke Skateboarding to develop an exciting skate film workshop under the mentorship of Chris ‘Middsy’ Middlebrook and showcase the completed films.
Finally thank you to our regular supporters and visitors; I hope you enjoy and embrace this new programming direction. And if you are here, joining us for the first time; I trust it’s the first of many memorable experiences at Gold Coast City Gallery and The Arts Centre Gold Coast.
right: Banksy | Nola (White Rain) | 2007
Tracy Cooper-Lavery Director Gold Coast City Gallery
Without Official Permission I have always had this affinity for exploring and desired the exhilarating feeling of discovery, which is why in my early twenties I took one set of clothes and a toothbrush and travelled solo on a quest to see the exotic places and unusual cultures I had read about. In 1981, tourism in China was difficult— backpackers were not encouraged— but I managed to sneak into southern China via Macau. Macau at the time was still being administered by the Portuguese Empire and its inheritor states. Every Chinese person I met was dressed in either a grey or navy blue Mao tunic suit, named after Mao Zedong, who died four years earlier. It was a powerful, stylistic image, as was seeing hundreds of men and woman digging a huge dam with long-handled shovels, squaring up blocks of dirt and transporting the soil on their backs over steep hills to I’m not sure where.
Later that year I visited the Soviet Union, which had not long deployed troops in Afghanistan. It was a difficult time and the height of the cold war was very real. Political and military tension with the West was high and crossing the border was a dramatic event. The Russian KGB border troops had the authority to confiscate any subversive literature, which meant every sign of Western influence, including books, photographs and magazines; they searched you more thoroughly than a trained sniffer dog and had the power to interrogate. They would also search your vehicle so methodically that they would unscrew the headlight covers and remove the interior panels. The black market for American dollars was extraordinary. It wasn’t long after the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games, the new hotels built especially for the games were already falling apart, buildings were crumbling,
left: Blek le Rat | The Man Who Walks Through Walls [detail] | 2009
toilets wouldnâ€™t work, and there was no hot water. Socialism, I thought to myself, wasnâ€™t working. We shopped in hard-currency stores but could only purchase caviar and champagne, propaganda posters and Mishka bears, the mascot dolls of the Olympics. Moscow was interesting, Leningrad beautiful, but my every move was monitored by an Intourist guide, an official from the state travel agency whose job was to keep me segregated from the Russian people. To interact with the Russian people was dangerous.
The slogans and hastily painted and sprayed words I saw on buildings and walls were the forerunner of a new style of art painted with maximum exposure in the biggest art gallery in the world: the public spaces of the urban landscape. It was called graffiti and became an anti-authoritarian art form; the Berlin Wall was covered in graffiti, messages I could not understand were painted on the walls of Russian buildings and in Chinese markets the youth of the day were having something to say.
I also travelled to Communist East Germany to see the Berlin Wall, erected to prevent East German citizens from fleeing to the democratic West.
Painting of the streets progressed quickly; Blek le Rat is credited as the originator of this movement. He was the first artist to make public art on the streets of Paris in 1980 and the first urban artist to transform the use of stencils from basic lettering to pictorial art. His message was simple, and his desire was to bring issues of social and
Why I mention these unusual, off-thebeaten-track destinations is because it was while visiting all these places that I first saw the signs of street art.
above: A1one | East Resist | 2008
political consciousness to the general public—to pose questions rather than assert a solution. Over the years other artists have followed in his footsteps, Banksy, D*face, Swoon and E.L.K to name a few. Graffiti writing divided popular opinion, with the social stigma of graffiti as a form of public vandalism being understandably widespread, which is why most artists operated under extreme secrecy, covering their faces while they worked and using pseudonyms to hide their true identity. However, despite its underground origins, the movement eventually blossomed into a global artistic phenomenon. In the midst of the growing chaos that defines contemporary society, many authors and art historians began to recognise graffiti and street art as a unique form of art, and not just the
scribbling of irrelevant nonsense on the vacant walls of public places. Indeed, due to its subversive power, this artistic movement had such an impact on society that several cuttingedge underground galleries and some forward-thinking commercial galleries encouraged the artists to exhibit their pieces. While stencil artists remained firmly radical, this provocative art form inevitably evolved into a sophisticated business: galleries started to produce substantial catalogues; coffee-table books were published; auction houses began to organise specialised catalogues devoted to street art; and many collectors, like myself, recognising the artistic and aesthetic significance of this new form of art, purchased examples to hang on the walls of their own homes. Ken McGregor Curator, Collector and Author
above: Banksy | Morons (aka “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit”) | 2007
Dark knights conquer the world ART FOR THE PEOPLE ‘It is the responsibility of a ‘selfproclaimed’ artist to realise the public needs art and not to make it bourgeois art for a few and ignore the masses.’1 KEITH HARING 1978
Late nights, early mornings – the streets are transformed. Street artists, many of whom have attended art school, venture out and visually disrupt urban structures with their work. With the mantra that art should be made by the people, for the people and be free, what they leave behind is ephemeral artwork that reflects society’s concerns, often through the prism of popular culture. left: Bambi | Make Tea, Not War [detail] | 2012
From prehistoric times when marks were made on cave walls, ideas have been shared in the public domain. Fast forward a few thousand years, a legacy of World War II was the Berlin Wall that divided Germany into two: communist East and democratic West. Until the barrier was demolished in 1989, it provided an enormous public platform for people to express political commentary and personal views. In 1986 Keith Haring painted on the Wall, his action viewed as the ‘artist aligning himself with political freedoms and ideas of democracy offered by the West’.2
13 More recently in 2008 the anonymous, yet infamous artist Banksy visited New Orleans, three years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to draw attention to the city’s slow recovery. Banksy’s Nola screenprint featured in the Signs of the Time exhibition is a souvenir of the experience. The artwork’s title references NOLA Rising, an art activist group founded by Rex Dingler with the intention of using art to boost morale. While in New Orleans to make the work, Banksy encountered The Grey [Gray] Ghost (aka Fred Radtke), who he described as ‘a notorious vigilante who’s been systematically painting over any graffiti he can see with the same shade of grey paint since 1997. Consequently he’s done more damage to the culture of the city than any section [Category] Five hurricanes could ever hope to achieve.’3 Ironically, the following year Radtke was arrested for painting over a mural that the owner of the building had commissioned. Signs that the times were changing occurred in 2010 when Bambi’s London portrait of the singer Amy Winehouse titled Amy Jade was vandalized. The tribute stencil, a version of which features in this exhibition, was unveiled from a workman’s tent 24 hours after Bambi had stenciled it and coincided with singer’s birthday. Located at Primrose Hill, the vandalized stencil ‘reignited the long-running London debate over the preservation of street art and resulted in Islington councillors proposing that a community committee be established to rule on the future protection of street art’.4 Fortunately, Banksy’s Nola survived The Grey [Gray] Ghost, because it was behind Plexiglas. The people had spoken. As Tate curator Cedar Lewisohn observed in 2008, ‘There is now a general appreciation of the fact that there are practitioners out there on the street whose art might be illegal but is far from pure vandalism.’5 left: E.L.K | Shatila Camp [detail] | 2013
REALITY CHECK ‘Due to Banksy’s popularity, more and more artists have been inspired to create their own work… No one is telling them to do it – it takes effort and skill. But I feel an irony when large companies and advertisers use graffiti to promote products, while grassroots artists get arrested for creating art, especially when they’re trying to convey political injustice.’6 STEWY 2012
As street artists’ guerrilla-like enhancement of urban structures is often considered a criminal act, many use pseudonyms: Bambi, Banksy, Stewy, D*Face, A1one and Swoon - Working anonymously has advantages for these artists; unlike print-media cartoonists before them, they are able to share social and political commentary without being filtered by a corporation. They can bypass the scrutiny of the art establishment, the media and bureaucrats by sharing their work in the public domain. The success of their work revolves around presenting ideas directly to the people, and the people’s reaction to it. With easy access to the internet, grass-root or underground artists are able to expand their audience, sharing their work on social-media platforms with the help of enthusiastic bloggers. The artists represented in the Signs of the Time exhibition are street-savvy. Combining wit with immense technical skill, their work tackles poverty, war, injustice, the cult of celebrity and the symbolism of animals. Due to the rapid response of police, many have progressed to freehand spray-paint stencils, with preparation occurring in the studio beforehand. The location of a work is important for street artists. Stewy, for example, carefully considered the placement of his portrait of fellow artist Tracey Emin from his British Cult Icons series.
14 The life size stencil, a version which features in this exhibition, appeared at Margate, the sea side town where London-born Emin grew up and coincided with Emin’s exhibition at Turner Contemporary. With the appreciation and collectability of street art extending beyond the urban environment, these outsiders and their work have become insiders. Artists including Swoon, Blek Le Rat, HA HA and E.L.K. have unveiled their identities while others continue using pseudonyms, citing security concerns. Blek Le Rat, for more than a decade before Banksy, anonymously plastered his messages on the streets. He championed the stencil as it enabled him to reproduce the image more than once and on different surfaces. He affiliated himself with the rat — his trademark — both for its association to the urban environment and for being a cunning survivor. More recently, Blek Le Rat embraced his celebrity status in the street-art scene with his statement selfportrait The Man Who Walks Through Walls, which features in Signs of the Time. He is one of the business-minded street artists who have taken control of their artwork, stating, ‘It may seem to be a contradiction… Street art is ephemeral by nature and the only way to keep memory of what had happened in the street is to show your work on canvas or other surfaces in a gallery.’ 7 This raises the question: does the significance of street artwork lessen when viewed in a different context? Enterprising street artists since the 1980s have capitalised on the popularity of their work. In 1986 Keith Haring opened The Pop Shop in New York, thereby making his work available to everyone. He produced prints, T-shirts, postcards and coffee cups featuring his trademark imagery. Similarly, street artists such as D*Face have established galleries to sell their peers work. Others, like Mike Snelle (one half of the Connor Brothers) have established companies such as Black Rat Prints to sell limitedright: D*face | Flutterdies | 2011
edition signed prints by highly regarded street artists. A turning point that signaled street art had officially been accepted by the art establishment occurred in 2007 when auction house Sotheby’s sold Banksy’s Bombing Middle England for £102,000. While Banksy was reportedly surprised, creating his Morons (aka I can’t believe you idiots buy this shit), a copy of which features in the exhibition; he nevertheless capitalized with cleverly organized media stunts that increased his fame. This included discreetly exhibiting his artwork in galleries alongside masters; in doing so placing himself and the street art community within the cannon of art history; staging the Banksy vs Bristol Museum exhibition and more recently the 2015 group show extravaganza Dismaland. In response to public interest, the art establishment, has elevated the status of street art by organising exhibitions such as Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution (Tate Modern 2008), and more locally Space Invaders: Australian street, stencils, posters, paste-ups, zines, stickers (National Gallery of Australia 2010). Many of the artists featured in Signs of the Time have made the transition to gallery and private collections. With the feverish popularity of street art, the provenance of an artwork is crucial. All artworks displayed in Signs of the Time were acquired legally through commercial galleries that represent the artist, or directly from the artists themselves. While street artists have not forgotten their roots, many such as E.L.K. moved seamlessly into the role of ‘artist’ by undertaking commissions, entering art competitions and having their work featured in exhibitions. Some of the works by E.L.K. that are featured in Signs of the Times have never appeared on the streets but are an extension of his practice, such as the stenciled peace keepers and street scenes made from numerous stencils.
17 Bob Dylan’s anthem The Times They Are A-Changing acknowledges change in the air, whereas Prince’s Signs ‘O’ the Times is a cry for change, with the emphasis on time. During the late 1970s when art exploded on to the streets and subway cars of New York, Keith Haring emerged as one of the leading savvy socially-minded artists who used art as a tool for change. He said, ‘I think… an artist, if he has any kind of social or political concern, has… to expose as much as possible what he sees so that people think about things that they don’t normally think about… Art… should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.’8 He created murals, accepted commissions, designed theatre sets. His work featured in exhibitions and in doing so he paved the way for the artists in this exhibition. With this in mind, on closer inspection the players—the artists—may be different, but the system hasn’t altered that much. Once outsiders, the street artists are now part of the art world ecology. The dark knights have conquered the world. Signs of the Time.
1 Cedar Lewishon, Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution, Tate publishing, United Kingdom, 2008, p.1.
2 Lewishon, Street Art, p.63.
3 Patrick Potter and Gary Shove, BANKSY: You are an acceptable level of threat and if you were not you would know about it, Carpetbombingculture, China, 2012, unpaginated.
4 Claudia Joseph, ‘Bye bye Banksy, hello Bambi: By day she’s a pop star, but by night she’s a guerrilla graffiti artist whose work is bought by Brad Pitt’, Mail Online, 24 August 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/ article-2730183/Bye-bye-Banksy-helloBambi.html: accessed 28 January 2017.
5 Lewishon, Street Art, p.9.
6 Joe Bill, ‘Stewy, the street artist right up Banksy’s alley’, Kentnews.co.uk, 17 Sept 2012. http://www.kentnews.co.uk/home/ stewy_the_street_artist_right_up_banksy_s_ alley_1_1516301: accessed 27 January 2017.
7 Alex McCulloch, ‘Blek Le Rat comes to Melbourne Australia’ in Blek Le Rat: 30 year retrospective, Vivant books, p.122.
8 Bernice Murphy, Keith Haring, Museum of Contemporary art, Australia, 1997, p.212.
Emma Collerton Exhibition Curator Gold Coast City Gallery
left: Swoon | Nee Nee [detail] | 2012
above: Stewy | Fox | 2011
Originally from Iran, Europe-based A1one grew up in Tehran where he was exposed to propaganda stencils of soldiers and martyrs. He was one of the first artists to spray paint walls to express his artistic vision in the Middle East and he was nicknamed ‘Alone’, which later mutated to his tag A1one. A1one began street art as an act of rebellion in 1995, stating, “I started drawing on walls without permission as an act of civil disobedience. I was an angry kid and this was how I expressed my frustration with authority and the system.”1 Street art was his form of communication and he admitted that he pushed the boundaries of his art all over the city’s walls. “I began protesting against silence, fear and the fact that real people—my people—had no voice. I wanted my voice back, and I knew I had to risk it all to raise my voice.”2 Consequently, in 2003 A1one was kidnapped by Iranian intelligence officers and interrogated for 12 days.
Upon being freed, A1one had no choice but to resort to a life in exile in Europe.3 His work featured in group exhibitions including Public Provocations (Carhartt Gallery, Germany, 2010), Spray1387 (Arete Gallery, Iran, 2008), Melbourne Stencil Festival (Yarra Sculpture Gallery, 2008) and Process Invisible (Street Level Gallery, USA, 2007). His work features in Iran, India, Australia, Italy, Slovenia, Germany, France, Czech Republic and Cuba. 1 - 3 Email from A1one to Emma Collerton 11 Jan 2017.
The Depression Cry 2007 [left] aerosol spray paint on board 40 × 30cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Melbourne Stencil Festival
East Resist 2008 [page 8] aerosol spray paint on canvas 30 × 40cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Melbourne Stencil Festival Peace Moto 2008 aerosol spray paint on canvas 40 × 30cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Melbourne Stencil Festival
BAMBI UNITED KINGDOM
Referred to as the female Banksy, the anonymous London-born Bambi adopted her tag from her father’s nickname for her, Bambina, Italian for child. Her father is said to be a jazz musician and her mother an artist. Bambi has confirmed that she attended City & Guilds of London Art School and later graduated with an MA from St Martin’s School of Art. In an email to Ken McGregor, Bambi admitted, “Because I’m a natural show-off it’s hard to keep my identity a secret but I’ve been in a prison cell and I can tell you it’s not very nice. Too many locks and a stainless-steel loo with hard toilet paper - that’s why I choose to remain anonymous.”1 Bambi has alluded to being a highprofile singer, with speculation she could be Geri Halliwell, M.I.A or Paloma Faith. In an interview Bambi said she drives an Aston Martin (she loves all things Bond), wears designer clothes (Vivienne Westwood and Agent Provocateur) and has a penchant for handmade Paul A. Young chocolates.2 Her hero is the suffragette Emily Davison and she admitted that, “I think being an artist is about creative freedom. I want to save the world - or at least draw attention to things I feel strongly about. Social comment is always present in my work. It’s easy to live with your eyes shut but not
very fulfilling or helpful to the world. Being a woman is also an important ingredient in my images. I’ve made pieces about the refugee crisis, Trident [nuclear arms], police brutality, knife crime, Brexit and Trump.”3 Bambi is best known for her portrait of the late singer Amy Winehouse. Her artwork has been collected by celebrities, including Kanye West, Rihanna, Robbie Williams, Adele and Angelina Jolie.
1 Email from Bambi to Ken McGregor 18 Jan 2017.
2 Claudia Joseph, ‘Bye bye Banksy, hello Bambi: By day she’s a pop star, but by night she’s a guerrilla graffiti artist whose work is bought by Brad Pitt’, Mail Online, 24 August 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/ article-2730183/Bye-bye-Banksy-helloBambi.html#ixzz4VuBTlECZ: accessed 16 Jan 2017.
3 Email from Bambi to Ken McGregor 18 Jan 2017.
Amy Jade 2012 [left] aerosol spray paint, oil and mixed media on metal panel 88 × 69cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Walton Fine Arts, London
Make Tea, Not War 2012 [page 10] aerosol spray paint on paper 110 × 77cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Walton Fine Arts, London
I Wish 2012 aerosol spray paint, oil and mixed media on canvas 122 × 96cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Walton Fine Arts, London
BANKSY UNITED KINGDOM
In 2016, researchers at London’s Queen Mary University used geographic profiling of 192 of the renowned street artist and activist’s works to identify a former Bristol public schoolboy, Robin Gunningham, as the real Banksy. However, despite wide press coverage, the unmasking remains unconfirmed. Since the early 1990s Banksy has been active on the street-art scene, originally associated with DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ). The tag Banksy is said to have evolved from Robin Banx—“robbing banks”—into the shorter Banksy, which was more memorable and easier to write on a wall. His breakthrough Turf War exhibition, staged in a former warehouse in London’s East End in 2003, had a carnival atmosphere and featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in the guise of a chimpanzee. He created a quantity of spoof British £10 notes in 2004, replacing the Queen’s portrait with that of the late Princess Diana and altering the text “Bank of England” to “Banksy of England”.
Film Festival in 2010 and it was later nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. In 2015, Banksy released Make this the year YOU discover a new destination, a short video revealing his trip to the Gaza Strip where he painted a few artworks. He also opened Dismaland at Westonsuper-Mare, Somerset, in 2015, a large-scale temporary group show that lampooned Disneyland. In 2010, Time magazine cited Banksy as one of the world’s 100 most influential people and from 2014 he was regarded as a British cultural Icon.
Banksy’s work has featured in galleries around the globe, including Barely Legal (Los Angeles, 2006), Banksy vs Bristol Museum (Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, 2009), and Art in the Streets (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2011). The world premiere of the feature film Exit Through the Gift Shop occurred at the Sundance
Nola (White Rain) 2007 [page 5]
Drill Rat 2003 [left, bottom] aerosol spray paint on “Diverted Traffic” street sign 76 × 105cm | Private Collection sourced by @StreetArtGlobe Provenance: Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art, LA
Morons (aka “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit”) 2007 [page 9] screenprint on paper | Edition 85⁄300 55.88 × 76.2cm | Private Collection sourced by @StreetArtGlobe Provenance: P.O.W (Pictures on Walls) & Pest Control
screenprint on paper | Edition 35⁄289 76 × 56cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Black Rat Gallery, London
Agency Job After Jean-François Millet (The Gleaners) 2009 [left, top] mixed media on re-purposed framed reproduction 58 × 74cm | Private Collection sourced by @StreetArtGlobe Provenance: Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art, LA
BLEK LE RAT FRANCE
Born Xavier Prou, Blek le Rat is a pioneer stencil artist whose work has been a major influence on many artists, including Banksy. He grew up in the swank 16th arrondissement of Paris and studied fine art at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He graduated in 1976 and completed his architecture studies in 1982 but never formerly graduated, as he became deeply involved in street art.1 Inspired by graffiti he saw in New York in 1971 and the Fascist propaganda portraits of Benito Mussolini, Le Rat started stenciling Parisian streets in 1981. His pseudonym stems from the Italian comic Blek le Roc, using “rat” as an anagram for “art”. The rat also appealed to Le Rat as “they create fear, they are synonymous with invasion and they are the only wild animals [apart from] pigeons that live in the city.”2 He maintained a low profile for ten years, but his identity was revealed in 1991 when, following his arrest, a magistrate reportedly remarked of a stencil replica of Caravaggio’s Madonna and Child, “I can’t condemn it, it’s too beautiful.”3 Le Rat has had solo exhibitions at the Leonard Street Gallery (London, 2006), Subliminal Projects Gallery (Los Angeles, 2008) and Metro Gallery (Melbourne, 2009). He was honoured with a thirtyyear retrospective at 941 Geary Gallery (San Francisco, 2011) and Opera Gallery (London, 2012).
1 Email from artist to Emma Collerton 12 Jan 2017.
2 ’Blek Le Rat – Biography of a Street Artist’, Stencil Revolution. http://www. stencilrevolution.com/profiles/blek-lerat/#Graffiti_from_New_York_to_Paris: accessed 9 Jan 2017.
3 Blek Le Rat, ‘ The manifesto of stencilism’, Blek Le Rat: Blek My Vibe. http://blekmyvibe.free. fr/blekhistoryeng.html: accessed 10 Jan 2017.
Beggar 2009 aerosol spray paint on canvas 72 × 34cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
David with Kalashnikov 2009 [left] aerosol spray paint and acrylic on canvas 72 × 46cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Rat 2009 [page 44, 45, detail] aerosol spray paint on canvas 46 × 61cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Sheep 2009 aerosol spray paint on board 105 × 122cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
The Man Who Walks Through Walls 2009 [page 6] aerosol spray paint on canvas 210 × 142cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Black Rat Gallery, London
The Man Who Walks Through Walls, French Flag 2009 aerosol spray paint on canvas 62 × 46cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
American Soldier 2010 aerosol spray paint on cardboard 107 × 43cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: The artist
THE CONNOR BROTHERS UNITED KINGDOM
Twins Franklyn and Brendan Connor were brought up within a secretive and highly controversial cult known as ‘The Family’. Born out of the hippie movement in 1968 and founded by David Berg, The Family was an extreme Christian cult. As children the twins were deprived of access to information from outside their commune; without access to the mainstream media, their knowledge of the world was limited to the teachings and interactions they gained from other cult members. At 16 the boys turned their backs on The Family and ran away from home. After several years riding freight trains they settled in the Brooklyn area of New York. Having been starved of information for so many years, Franklyn and Brendan were initially overwhelmed by the outside world but soon developed an insatiable curiosity and a remarkable appetite to learn. They developed a system whereby each of them would read, watch and discover things independently and then share them with one another via
a series of notebooks and sketchpads. This interaction developed into making art together, a process they describe as ‘trying to make sense of the world.’ Their often-humorous work is steeped in references to both historical and popular culture and presents an almost anthropological view of contemporary western society.1 T he Connor Brothers are fictional characters created by British artists Mike Snelle and James Golding. Their work explores the nature of truth and fiction, often blurring the line between the two. This biography was kindly supplied by the artists.
1 Golding, James, and Mike Snelle. “About the Connor Brothers.” The Connor Brothers. http://www.theconnorbrothers.com/aboutus/: accessed 5 Feb 2017.
Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it 2014 screenprint and aerosol spray paint on canvas 120 × 75cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Nanda Hobbs Contemporary, Sydney
The truth will set you free. But not until it’s finished with you 2014 [left] screenprint and aerosol spray paint on canvas 120 × 75cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Nanda Hobbs Contemporary, Sydney
D*FACE UNITED KINGDOM
Born Dean Stockton, London-raised D*Face attended an illustration and design course, and his interest in street art was ignited by US photographer and videographer Henry Chalfant’s 1980s books of New York subway graffiti, Spraycan Art and Subway Art. Skateboarding and Thrasher magazine’s coverage of skateboard deck graphics steered D*Face towards stickers and the do-it-yourself mentality associated with skate and punk fanzines.1
1 D*FACE, WIDEWALLS. http://www.widewalls. ch/artist/dface/: accessed 14 Jan 2017.
2 Marc, ‘D*FACE’S OUTSIDE INSTITUTE OPENS IN LONDON THIS FRIDAY’, Blog, Posted 30 March 2005. http://www.woostercollective. com/post/dfaces-outside-institute-opensin-london-this-friday: accessed 14 Jan 2017.
He went on to establish Outside Institute, London’s first contemporary gallery dedicated to street art, and held the position curator. D*Face described the 2,000 square-foot space, located in Junction Mews, Paddington, as “a one-stop hangout for any artists visiting the UK, with desk space to collaborate, the gallery, and a shop selling paint, books, toys, T-shirts.”2 In 2005 the Outside Institute relocated to Shoreditch and was re-branded as the StolenSpace Gallery. The following year D*Face’s first major solo exhibition at StolenSpace Gallery, Death & Glory, sold out; he continues to regularly show there, in both solo and group exhibitions.
butterfly and mixed media on board 24 × 30cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
He collaborated with Christina Aguilera on her 2010 Bionic album cover and with Blink-182 on their 2016 album cover California. In 2013, D*Face participated in curator Ben More’s Art Wars exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery, for which he transformed a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet into an artwork.
Unmasked at last 2009 mixed media on board 35 × 25cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Flutterdies 2011 [page 15] butterflies and mixed media on board 44 × 31cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Flutterdies 2011 butterfly, beetle and mixed media on board 30 × 24cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Flutterdies 2011 photographic print and hand painting on dibond 81 × 119cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
The late Lord’s Prayer 2011 [page 2] collage on board 33 × 26cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Something wicked this way comes 2011 collage on board 33 × 26cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Love her hate him 2012 [left] aerosol spray paint, Perspex and mixed media on board 153 × 122cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Stolen Space Gallery, London
A former blue-collar worker from Canberra, E.L.K. (aka Luke Cornish) is a self-taught artist who stumbled upon stencils while working on a project for his landscape-architecture degree. In 2012, he was shortlisted for the prestigious Archibald Prize with a portrait of controversial Catholic priest Father Bob Maguire made entirely from handmade stencils. In 2013, he was awarded the Churchill Fellowship, was a finalist in the Sulman Prize and his portrait of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. In 2015 at Sydney’s Ambush Gallery he curated the exhibition YourKidCanDoThis, featuring 50 stencil artists from 16 countries. That same year E.L.K. also painted freehand a mural of hip-hop artist Rob Hunter (MC Hunter) for the Public Art Festival Perth. He has had solo exhibitions at Nanda\Hobbs Contemporary, Sydney; Art Equity, Sydney; Metro Gallery, Melbourne; and StolenSpace, London. His work has featured in group exhibitions including Stencil Master Urban Art Festival (Amsterdam, 2015), First Landing to Last Post (Parliament House, Canberra, 2015), ELK × ADNATE Killing It (Molecule Gallery, Melbourne, 2012) and Friends with Knives (Crewest Gallery, Los Angeles, 2010). His work is in the collections of Gold Coast City Gallery, Bond University Collection and Art Gallery of Ballarat.
A.T.O 2012 [page 32] aerosol spray paint on board 123 × 90cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Nanda Hobbs Contemporary, Sydney
Cliché 2012 [left] aerosol spray paint on wood 80 × 90cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Don’t Worry Be Happy 2012 aerosol spray paint on board 120 × 80cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Nanda Hobbs Contemporary, Sydney
Dilligaf 2013 aerosol spray paint on glass 40 × 30cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
EKO 2013 aerosol spray paint on glass 40 × 30cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
House on back 2013 aerosol spray paint on glass 40 × 30cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
HWD 2013 aerosol spray paint on glass 40 × 30cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
On point 2013 aerosol spray paint on glass 40 × 30cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Shatila Camp 2013 [page 12] aerosol spray paint on dibond 126 × 100cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne After Cullen 2014 aerosol spray paint and synthetic polymer paint on board 50 × 40cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: The artist
Eye Protection 2016 [page 33] aerosol spray paint on metal sign 60 × 45cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Niubi 2016 aerosol spray paint on aluminum 160 × 110cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
NEW ZEALAND / AUSTRALIA
New Zealand-born Regan Tamanui is a self-taught artist who started spraying stencils on the street and made the transition to galleries and the commercial sector. His tag derived from the “ha ha” laugh of The Simpsons character Nelson. Best known for his handmade stencil portrait of the Australian bushranger Ned Kelly, his work explores the power of the media and popular culture. Ha Ha has undertaken commissions and stencil workshops for the Australian High Commission in Singapore and Papua New Guinea, Triple M, City Lights Project, SBS, Garma Festival and the City of Melbourne. He was a co-director and curator of Early Space in Melbourne from 2003-2007, and his work has featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Contemporary
Australia: Optimism (Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, 2008), Space Invaders (National Gallery of Australia, 2010) and Whenua Ora / Upon the Land (Waikato Art Museum, NZ, 2016). His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Art Bank, the State Library of Victoria and private collections in Australia, New Zealand & around the world. Ned Kelly 2009 [above] aerosol spray paint on board 50 × 34.5cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: The artist
Born Anthony Lister, he assisted in pioneering the street-art movement in Brisbane. At age 17 he was creating murals, signing them with his surname and tag, and in 1999 the Brisbane City Council commissioned him to paint numerous traffic signal boxes around the city. He graduated with a BA of Fine Arts from the Queensland College of Art in 2001 and shortly afterwards went to New York to work with his mentor Max Gimblett, whom he had met at the Queensland Art Gallery. Lister was artist-in-residence at Melbourneâ€™s Blender Studios in 2004 and a finalist in the Prometheus Art Awards (Gold Coast, 2005, 2009), Dobell Prize for Drawing (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2008), Mosman Art Prize (2006), Metro 5 Award (2005, 2004) and the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship
(2003). He has created public art for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra; Brisbane Powerhouse and the Fred Perry Skate Park, Brisbane; the Standard Hotel, Los Angeles; and the New Yorkbased Wooster Collective website. He has had solo exhibitions in the US, the UK and Australia. His work has featured in group exhibitions including Hello Kitty (Art Basel, Miami, Florida, 2010), Space Invaders (National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010), Collection Focus: Sight and Sound (Gold Coast City Gallery, 2013) and More or Less (Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece, 2014). Italian pizza heroes 2009 [above] mixed media on canvas 145 Ă— 260cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
MARTIN WHATSON NORWAY
Norwegian-born Whatson developed a strong interest in street art while studying art and graphic design at Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo. He credits Banksy as his inspiration to start creating stencils in 2004. He has had solo exhibitions at Black Book Gallery (Denver, Colorado, 2015), Galleri A (Oslo, 2014), Gallery Kawamatsu (Tokyo, 2013), MSA Gallery (Paris, 2013) and Black Pop Gallery (Copenhagen, Denmark 2011). He has
participated in the Urban Paint Festival (UK, 2009), Project M3 Curated by NuArt (Germany, 2014) and Cities of Hope Festival (UK, 2016) Untitled 2013 [above] aerosol spray paint on canvas 26 Ă— 20cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Moniker Art Fair, London
MIGHTY MO UNITED KINGDOM
Mighty Monkey, aka Mighty Mo, is known for his trademark monkey portrait motif. Active in London since 2005, he is said to have originally been part of the London Frontline collective that saturated the Camden area with its work. Mighty Mo then moved over to East London where he joined the BC collective, alongside Sweet Toof, Cyclops, Tek 33, Gold Peg, Dscreet and Rowdy.1 His work featured in Alex MacLaughton’s London Street Art
books, published by Prestel, and R.J. Rushmore’s The Thousands: Painting Outside, Breaking In, published by Drago Media in 2009.
1 Team Rex website. http://www.teamrex.org/ gallery/mighty-mo/: accessed 9 Jan 2017.
Mighty Mo 2011 [above] aerosol spray paint on canvas coated with cement render 32 × 32cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: The artist
STEWY UNITED KINGDOM
For security, Stewy deliberately works anonymous. He has been arrested and has said the idea of spending another night in a cell isn’t very appealing. Stewy grew up during the 1970s and 1980s and was inspired by political street art located on the end of the Northern Ireland terrace buildings that defined the lines between Catholics and Protestants. He has conceded the work of Banksy, Blek Le Rat and Ernest Pigon Ernest has had impact on his work. His first hand-cut stencil was of a pigeon in 2007 and he subsequently created a cat to chase the pigeon, then created a dog to chase the cat - this was unknowingly the beginning of his A – Z of British Indigenous Animals.1 The animals were carefully placed in urban settings to highlight the notion of nature reclaiming the city. Stewy is also known for his British Cult Icons series, selecting people who he believes ‘have or had made a difference [by] changing how we approach art, music or writing… pushing the boundaries in Britain and shaking things up a little.’ Subjects including Quentin Crisp, Dylan Thomas and Tracey Emin have appeared in locations close to where they lived, worked or died. In 2014, he created stencils of famous artists, writers and musicians, including the Brontë sisters, Jarvis Cocker and David Hockney, on bikes positioned along the Tour de France route at places associated with them.
1 Stewy, Metro Gallery. http://www.metrogallery. com.au/artists/79/stewy/: accessed 14 Jan 2017.
Badger 2011 aerosol spray paint on canvas 66.5 × 101cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Peta O’Brien Contemporary, London
Cat 2011 aerosol spray paint on canvas 51 × 47cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Peta O’Brien Contemporary, London
Dog 2011 aerosol spray paint on canvas 67 × 89.5cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Peta O’Brien Contemporary, London
Fox 2011 [page 17] aerosol spray paint on canvas 69 × 124cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Peta O’Brien Contemporary, London
Owl 2011 aerosol spray paint on canvas 50 × 42cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Peta O’Brien Contemporary, London
Pigeon 2011 aerosol spray paint on canvas 35 × 35cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Peta O’Brien Contemporary, London
Tracey Emin 2011 [page 12, detail] aerosol spray paint on canvas 200 × 76cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Peta O’Brien Contemporary, London
Rabbit 2011 aerosol spray paint on canvas 54 × 50cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Peta O’Brien Contemporary, London
Squirrel 2011 [left] aerosol spray paint on canvas 47 × 40cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Peta O’Brien Contemporary, London
SWOON UNITED STATES
Born Caledonia Dance Curry in Connecticut, Swoon was a student when she started her street-art career in 1999, working anonymously. She adopted her tag following a dream by her then boyfriend in which together they created street art and dodged police and she wrote ‘swoon’ on a building. She specializes in wheat paste prints and paper cuts, and the majority of her work comprises portraits of people she knows. In 2002, Swoon graduated with a BA Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute, New York, and by 2005 she was making installations. She was awarded the Evolutionaere Zellen Grant (2002) and the Tides Foundation’s Lambent Fellowship (2007). With 30 colleagues she crashed the 2009 Venice Biennale with the Swimming Cities of Serenissima, an installation consisting of rafts made of containers of New York City garbage. In 2011, Swoon had a site-specific installation at the New Orleans Museum of Art and she held her first solo exhibition at Black Rat Projects in London. In 2014, she was the first living street artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition at New York’s Brooklyn Museum. Swoon is part of Transformazium, a Pennsylvania-based collective of artists who provide handson learning through the creative re-use of derelict urban spaces and resources.
She also founded the Toyshop collective, organizing events such as 50 people marching through New York’s Lower East Side playing musical instruments made from junk. To further her community-based projects she founded the nonprofit Heliotrope Foundation. Her artwork is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and of celebrities including Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. Milton 2010 [left, detail] block print on Mylar 270 × 115cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Black Rat Gallery, London
Street sweeper 2010 screenprint and fabric on Mylar 61 × 91cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Black Rat Gallery, London
Street sweeper 2010 screenprint and fabric on Mylar 61 × 91cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Black Rat Gallery, London
Street sweeper 2010 screenprint and fabric on Mylar 61 × 91cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Black Rat Gallery, London
Girl from Ranoon 2011 block print on Mylar Herakut 34 × 38cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Nee Nee 2012 [page 16, detail] block print on Mylar with coffee stain and hand painting 229.9 × 223.5cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: Black Rat Gallery, London
TEDDY BADEN UNITED KINGDOM
An avid dog lover, London-based Teddy Baden wears a canine mask to protect his identity. Known for his handmade stencils of dogs and his humour, Baden studied art in Bristol under artists Brian Griffith and Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller. He has created artwork for Red Bull, the BBC, the Portabello Film Festival, the Mutoid Waste Company and Tileyard Studios. In 2013 he collaborated with the Dogs Trust charity to celebrate the 35th anniversary of its slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’. At one time he lived and worked in an abandoned school on Old Street, Islington, and at night would visit the grave of William Blake in Bunhill Fields, a former burial ground where artists and mavericks hung out in gambling and drinking dens.1 This inspired him in 2009 to establish the Whitecross Street Party and the Rise of the Non-
Conformists street-art exhibition in which Whitecross Street was transformed into an outdoor gallery, with large-scale artworks installed on walls and rooftops. Working in conjunction with the Mayor of London, Arts Council England, St Luke’s Trust and various London borough councils, he has managed exhibition and production budgets of up to £40,000.2 In 2014, he was a member of the judging panel for the Curious Duke Gallery’s Secret Art Prize.
1 Becky Barnicoat, ‘Weekender: Teddy Baden, street artist and curator, 33’, The Guardian, 15 June 2013. https://www.theguardian. com/fashion/2013/jun/15/weekender-teddybaden-street-artist: accessed 12 Jan 2017.
2 Teddy Baden website. http://www.teddybaden. co.uk/ABOUT: accessed 10 Jan 2017.
Diver Dog 2011 [left] metal, glass, aerosol spray paint on wood 28.5 × 28.5cm | Collection Ken McGregor Provenance: The artist
Blek le Rat | Rat | 2009
SIGNS OF THE TIME RRP $5.00
STREET ART DARK KNIGHTS
Published on Mar 16, 2017
Exclusive to Gold Coast City Gallery, Signs of the Time is an exhibition of street art by world-renowned, national and local artists. Includ...