Street Art is a phrase synonymous with 70s New York and more recently East London. Shoreditch in particular has seen an explosion of colour in every corner over the last few years, the vibrant street art scene playing a huge part in the transition of the area into one of the most creative, exciting and deliciously cool parts of London.
Street Art has hit the mainstream with many more people being aware of the big names through the growth of commercially commissioned pieces, street art tours and Graffiti workshops. Street Art now commands huge prices at auction with a Banksy recently being sold for £750,000 and huge international prestige with David Cameron presenting Obama with a piece by Ben Eine.
East London is not the only place you can find Street Art though. Out of all the areas of South London to be hit by the bug the least likely place to be leading the scene is the elite wealthy suburb Dulwich. However thanks to the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery this is exactly what has happened.
The projects curator Ingrid Beazley first met street artist Stik in 2012 when they collaborated on a project inspired by Dulwich Picture Gallery. DPG is England’s first public art gallery with a permanent collection of Old Master paintings from the 17th and 18th Centuries. The gallery houses works by Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Rubens amongst many others. Stik created six pieces in Dulwich drawn directly from specific works in the collection. The pieces drew parallels between the shared themes (such as humanity, conflict or love) to be found in both Street Art and Fine Art and were extremely well received by the local community.
Ingrid then went on to work with Richard Howard Griffin of Howard Griffin Gallery who hooked her up with many other street artists for the Baroque the Streets project in 2013. This ambitious project saw internationally renowned artists painting huge murals all over Dulwich again inspired by paintings from the picture Gallery. Over the course of only a few weeks the artists descended upon Dulwich to paint the walls and also contribute to ‘re-decorating’ a condemned house on Lordship Lane that was completely transformed into a Street Art House and became the hub for the project.
Baroque the Streets was a hugely exciting moment in Dulwich’s street art revolution but it hasn’t stopped there. Since 2013 Ingrid has continue to make links with new artists and expand the reach of Dulwich Outdoor Gallery to Forest Hill, Sydenham and beyond!
She has also written a book (Street Art, Fine Art) which is a huge catalogue of images both of the artwork and of the artists painting it. Street Art by its nature is temporary and Ingrid explains ‘often the artists themselves aren’t that interested in maintaining their work, they create it and then move on. If I see a tag or somebody tells me about it I will go and remove it though, I’ve got quite good with a spray can!’.
Some of the artists involved in the project have widespread international fame and the work created represents a huge diversity of style and technique. Here is a selection of highlights (full map here) starting with Ingrid’s personal favourite Sampson and Delilah by David Shillinglaw;
Ingrid says; ‘David believes that Delilah was actually in love with Samson, something never mentioned in the Bible story, and was forced into betraying him, hence the single head incorporating two pairs of crying eyes, and the bleeding hearts.’
The walls can be seen at any time and a walk around town can also encompass visiting Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the famous works that inspired their street art re-interpretations.