Art for Water: Millerntor Gallery 2017

Of all the things London spoiled me with, Street Art was one of the most vibrant. Rarely a week passed without a new great show opening around town. I still remember the very first KAWS show in London 2003, Banksy’s first exhibition at the Dragon Bar or Ben Eine painting his letters in Bricklane.  And who can forget the legendary group show Santas Ghetto on Oxford Street 2006 uniting the “Who is who” of the global Street Art movement like some arty Avengers?

Well, I am happy to report that Hamburg is getting it’s arty groove on as well with murals by 1010, LowBros and a vibrant Graffiti scene that has been spawning legendary writers and taggers like DAIM, OZ (RIP) and MOST just to name a few.

So I was more than happy to learn about the annual Millerntor Gallery event that transforms the football stadium of the Hamburg Soccer Club St.Pauli into an open air gallery over a long weekend to raise funds for their charity Viva Con Aqua

Already in it’s 7th year, the line up featured an international selection of fantastic Street Artists and Graffiti writers and thanks to an invite by local Graffiti Store Underpressure I was able to create artwork for their charity auction featuring 100 painted Minisubwayz trains who would get raffled away during the event.

In addition of having had the honour to submit some art alongside some proper Graffiti and Street Art legends I was able to support the Street Art School Hamburg during the gallery run.

Offering workshops to educate visitors about Street Art and let them have a go at painting and stencilling themselves, it was the perfect hands on experience to unleash their own creative genius after checking out the show!

Of cause I had a stroll through the show as well. Here are some of my personal favourite pieces from the art on display. 

For sentimental reasons I really loved the Bud Spencer piece by Spruehwairk… great execution as well! Following is works by Marc Jung x Marco Fisher, Gabriel Riquelme and Smith The One x Seher One. How dope is that skull?!

Music and talks were a big part of the experience so shout out to Hamburg artist Marambolage who decorated the stage area with colourful drops!

Another impressive piece was the Underpressure train wall. Over 100 artists contributed and for 75€ per lucky dip you could go home with a train full of original artwork. I still don’t know who got my train, so please contact me if you were the lucky one!

The Millerntor Gallery didn’t just attract artists and musicians so I was able to make friends with a lot of other DJs, Promoters and general movers and shakers as well. Big shout out at this point to the Ramba Zamba St Pauli Fanclub who ran the Kuttique stall. Fucking mentalists! Not only did they invite me to spin some tunes but suddenly the whole place became the backdrop for a Nigerian Pop Video. Crazy…

With all this energy all around me I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of art pieces as well. After walking past it a hundred times I had to pull the trigger and got this hand painted tray by MyntOne. I am a big fan of the Jukebox Cowboys Crew and his execution and colourway was just too fresh!

In addition to that did I pick up a lovely Felipe Pantone print and one of the awesome limited edition Millerntor Gallery Graff Beer mugs.

Tried to create my own limited edition Millerntor Gallery artwork as well but didn’t manage to finalise it in time… one day I shall finish them! Keep your eyes peeled!

So what more can I say: I had an absolute blast! I just love such events that connect the dots between art, music, people and social engagement. I shall put in some work to be able to paint a wall at Millerntor Gallery #8 in 2018! Until then…


Daydreaming with… UNKLE @Lazarides Gallery

Let’s chat about the reason I took it upon myself to visit London in January when it’s rainy, cold and horrible: MoWax boss James Lavelle was holding court in the legendary Lazarides gallery to celebrate 25 Years of UNKLE and the upcoming release of the new record ‘The Road’!

So when I got the chance to attend the private view of the show I knew I had to hop onto the next flight to The Big Smoke aka London Town.

It was great to check out all my old haunts like Maharishi, Supreme and various record shops with the exhibition being the cherry on top.

When I arrived at the venue on day two of my stay there was already an orderly queue forming outside the gallery and soon the space was buzzing with the devoted followers of all things UNKLE.

On display where pieces crafted by the usual suspects: Futura 2000 and Massive Attacks artist in residence, 3D. Both created artwork for past UNKLE albums with Futura covering the first two and Del Naja taking over for the third album ‘War Stories’.

Additional UNKLE related art was provided by Doug Foster, John Isaacs, Ben Drury, Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones to name just a few!

I really enjoyed the mix of different mediums on display: From photography, painting, sculpture all the way to scents and VR experiences, there was no shortage of things to look at.

Still, when I think MoWax and UNKLE I really like the old work by Futura best. I’m just oldskool like that!

The legendary Pointman character he created for the UNKLE logo is still my fave, so one of the stand out pieces of the show for me was this weird mechanical Pointman robot on the upper floor.

First on display at the original Daydreaming show curated by Lavelle all the way back in 2010, it’s still very impressive in the flesh… or dare I say… metal.

You can see this thing in action here.

I couldn’t really take any good shots at the show that night so I returned the next day to give the whole exhibition a second viewing. 

The fun with UNKLE always was the merchandise connected with the band: Being it rare versions of the albums, collectable toys or limited edition clothing… UNKLE never held back.

So not suprisingly there were a lot of things for sale, especially some vintage goodies straight out of Lavelles private collection!

When the main guy of a music band creates a Japanese toy of himself in BAPE garm, you know how geeky the world of UNKLE really is. That might explain why most of the people in attendance were middle-aged Streetwear nerds like me… eyeing the display of rare merchandise nervously…

On that note: Shoutout to @mowaxplease who actually got himself a plastic Lavelle to take home with, I am envious!

I promised myself to be good and not purchase any more stuff but when I saw the new screen prints created for the show I had to reconsider: Featuring six different colour variations of the legendary UNKLE camouflage created by Futura and Ben Drury, I just knew I had to get one!

The funny thing about UNKLE is that although I enjoy the music, the true appeal of James Lavelles musical project really is this incredible, Otaku like obsession with creating hard to get collectables that accompanied each album release.

Being it the UNKLESounds mix CDs that never got officially released, the awesome pop up album artwork that was promo only or the toys created with Medicom in Tokyo: You could bet each new album would come with a bucketload of swag that send Hypebeast heads spinning… but that topic is a blog post in itself!

You can get a good sense of Lavelles obsessions in this video of him chatting to The Guardian about the show. I am still cracking up watching the bit where he tries to explain all the toys to the flabbergasted interviewer…

So yeah… boys and their toys. Again, you can blame it all on Star Wars! If everybody would have kept their Hans and Leias boxed and not sold them off as kids, so much geek trauma could have been averted!

But then again, maybe we wouldn’t have gotten all this great artwork and product.

Still, geek shouldn’t be a dirty word. It’s the medal of honour that should be worn with pride! It means you know more about a specific topic than most other people on this planet which is AWESOME, right?! The only rule to follow here is to never, EVER try talking to people who are not sharing the same fire. 

This is a foolish rookie mistake that can only end in tears and humiliation!

I know I can always count on my homies from to create a nice comforting echo chamber of warm UNKLE man-love at such events. So shout out to @Mojib, @Mowaxplease, @ZMan, @WDMN, @JonesysJukebox, @M0Matt and the many others that made it down to London to worship at the altar of UNKLE just like me.

Some travelled all the way from Sweden and France so big up to JL for being a good sport and taking a snap with the U77 massive!

On this note let me wrap up with the official war cry of the MoWax obsessives: 

U… N… K… L… E …EE! Until next time…

For more about UNKLE and the legacy of MoWax head over to:

If you want to hear some great UNKLE tracks and remixes, check out my UNKLE tribute mix over at Mixcloud:

London Gallery Crawling: Part 1

Living in London as a creative person can be a blessing and a curse at the same time: It’s absolutely fantastic to have the best of art, design and music at your fingertips, yet it can be mind-fryingly overwhelming as well.

It’s easy to develop full blown FOMO ( Fear Of Missing Out ) syndrome as the best of the best exhibiting their work in an seemingly never ending queue of awesomeness on a daily basis. It’s just really easy to get lost in the whirlwind of other people’s work and loose one’s own creative focus!

Still, with the right amount of self discipline ( erm ) it’s possible to get stuff done AND enjoy the richness of London’s creative scene. So please enjoy my little recap of exhibitions I checked out lately…

Maser: Orbiting on the Periphery / Lazarides Gallery

I always enjoy shows at Rathbone Place where Lazarides currently operates it’s main gallery. Home of many great exhibitions in the past, it’s one of the top galleries for Urban Art in London, check it!

As dedicated followers of my digital adventures know I am a sucker for bright colours and shapes. So great I stumbled into the show of Irish artist Maser purely by chance! I really enjoyed his paintings and took a good long look at his technique as he used a lot of different materials and interesting approaches to getting certain effects on the canvas…

Ahhhh colours…


The Connor Brothers: Wondrous Obsessions / Hang Up Pictures

Another heavyweight of the British Urban Art gallery scene, and conveniently just up the street where I live!

I feel Hang Up Pictures are curating more withered, darker looking shows compared to Lazarides and Stolenspace who do like their art rather eye popping, so having The Connor Brothers commission a selected group of artists to create work living alongside natural history artifacts, scientific objects and antiques just totally fit the bill!

Victorian Street Art you say? Hmmm… All I know is that no art show worth it’s salt is complete without an hawt female intern or gallery manager looking concentrated into a macbook 😉

And onwards…

Felipe Pantone & Alex Yanes / Stolenspace Gallery

Ticking yet another box: Stolenspace! Founded by D*Face in 2005, for me the gallery really helped Street Art upping the ante regarding the quality and the craftsmanship of work exhibited.

Did they take a page out of Obeys playbook creating Street Art with a high-end finish? Maybe, but I always enjoy checking out what’s on…

I really like the concept of joined exhibitions and the two gallery spaces at Stolenspace are perfect for that! On my last visit the first gallery was showing ‘Way-Out’ by Alex Yanes. I saw a bit of Barry McGee aka Twist in his work  and really enjoyed his painted wood sculptures, mixing lots of materials to add detail. Especially the finish and combination of characters and type really hit my spot. And his painted Boombox was just too dope!

The main space was dedicated to ‘Data Somersault’ by Felipe Pantone. What can I say: The pieces had my eyeballs somersaulting fo sho! The vision screwing patterns, rainbow colours and retro computer aesthetic really made me think this is the kind of art that hangs on the walls of Bill Gates or Max Headroom. The mix of 80ties gradients and stern black and white symmetry really rocks!


Phil Ashcroft: Fallout / Canal Projects

Always good to support local galleries! I never been to Canal Projects so it was awesome to check out a new art space. Especially when the very talented Phil Ashcroft has his paintings on the walls: Check it out, it’s on till 10th September!

I always liked a mix of acrylic paint and vector based aesthetic: Long time member of the Gamma Proforma Crew and Scrawl Collective Phil Ashcroft was rocking it and there were a lot of familiar faces and dope beats courtesy of Dj Monkphat.

Having a friend over from Germany who is really into art was pretty cool too! She wasted no time discussing post modernism with poor Phil… or maybe they just had chat about colour matching paint and scarves? Who knows…


To finish this piece off with a bang:

Jeff Koons: Now / Newport Street Gallery

Last month was the time to FINALLY check out the gallery space build and curated by no other than Damien Hirst! What can I say… what a building: Designed by architects Caruso St John, the gallery spans 37,000 square feet and includes six exhibition spaces – one with a ceiling height of eleven metres – split over two levels. It hosts art from Hirst’s private collection is free to get in. Sweet!

Hirst is so rich, he can even afford a couple of  hawt interns / gallery managers looking into Apple products! At the same time! Plus security! Bling Bling!

For avid fans of Koons the NOW show has no surprises in store really. If this is Hirsts private collection he basically acquired the most iconic pieces from Koons catalogue: Floating basketballs, pieces from the Popeye Series, Cicciolina in the face photos and massive polished sculptures from his Celebration Series… 

That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it! The space lends itself perfectly to display Koons work, especially the two massive sculptures on show. 

I just hope her boyfriend doesn’t get chrome envy…

Koons is just the daddy of Pop, with his porn pictures soiling the clean and innocent polish of his other work in the perfect amount. His re-creations of inflatable toys or the massive Play Doh mountain and chrome sculptures really express the joy of collecting and the visual power of cute toys. Looking at his work gives me the the same kick I get from marvelling at toys from my local toy store. Just in bigger. MUCH BIGGER. Something KAWS understood and applied to his own work quite perfectly.

I can only applaud the crispness of his work. Well done assistants, well done…

Upon leaving the gallery I spotted a stencil piece in a nearby tunnel, facing the gallery. A tribute by Banksy or just a miffed art critic venting? It shall remain a mystery…

Hope you enjoyed the show(s)… till next time!


Lazarides | Hang Up Pictures | Stolenspace Gallery | Canal Gallery | Newport Street Gallery

Their 7″ vinyl weights a ton: Secret 7s 2016

That London hosts amazing exhibitions is no secret, but this exhibition hold some secrets itself! Kickstarted in 2012, Secret 7s picks 7 tracks and releases them on 7″ vinyl. Then selected artists, designers and illustrators create unique covers for the song of their choice.

The catch: The artist, the designer and the track stay anonymous so each visitor has to guess which creative messed around with which song!

Especially when it comes to the infamous sale day where all the sleeves get sold off for charity, having the right hunch can bag the vinyl lover an original artwork by a world famous artists for the price of £50!

The list of contributors is as eclectic as the selection of songs for the 7 inch vinyl: From total newcomers to big artists, Secret 7s prides itself to be open and accessible which I think is great. And not just because I managed to get to submit an artwork to the show 😉 

So many different approaches to customizing a 7″ cover! Trying to figure out the songs as a visitor is as much fun as designing a sleeve as an artist: It’s all about dropping enough hints to make the cover relevant to the song, but not too many that it’s too obvious. 

Name-dropping all of the artists featured would be impossible. The whole list can be seen here. Needless to say it’s great to share the exhibition space with friends like Daniel Clarke, Patrick Hanke, Mark James and Stevie Gee and personal heroes of mine like Pete Fowler and Swifty, just to name a few.  

As all monies will be donated to Amnesty International there is  no need to cling onto your cash: Get yourself a piece of affordable art and support a great cause! 

Wonder which songs are on offer? Tracks featured on vinyl this year: Chvrches / Clearest Blue, Etta James / At Last, Jack Garratt / Worry, The Jam / Art School, John Lennon / Imagine, Max Richter / Dream 3 and Tame Impala / The Less I Know The Better. Quite a range of musical styles!

To create the right vibe for the private view at creative space Sonos Studio featured artist and vinyl lover Pete Fowler and friends provided the soundtrack to the kick off of this years show with their 7″ vinyl  only selection while ice cold craft beers made the rounds. Cheers! Now I really have to get that amazing Turkish Funk record he played…

So head down to Secret 7s in Shoreditch and go on your own musical expedition into the unknown… and discover more than one visual treasure!

The exhibition runs from 8th of April till 1st of May 2016 with the Sale Day being on 2nd May! Open Tuesday till Sunday, 10AM – 6.30PM at Sonos Studio, 21 Club Row, Shoreditch.

Before I am off to the record store, let me say that Secret 7s is not the only project worth mentioning when it comes to fusing art and music on 7″ vinyl…

1) Waiwiya

I came across these great designed 7″ records during the Independent Label Market this year. Apparently Waiwiya is a singles club where a subscription gives you access to seven vinyl singles designed by seven amazing artists. What a fun concept! Check out their Facebook to find out more. 


2) 45/7 Vinyl Club

Hailing from Hamburg / Germany, the aim of the 45/7 Vinyl Club is to connect 7″ vinyl lovers and present new eclectic 7″ mixes on a monthly basis via their Soundcloud. Every contributing DJ gets a unique hand painted 7″ sleeve by Secret 7s artist Patrick Hanke and they just celebrated their first limited release on vinyl:  A limited promotional only pressing of their “45/7 Theme” which already has a special place in my record collection!


3) Mondo Tees |

The illustration heavy hitters from Austin / Texas don’t only deliver when it comes to amazing and limited screenprinted posters, no they go all out too for their vinyl releases! These Batman and Superman 7″ vinyls are just a thing of beauty. Catch them if you can!

Still Here: A Decade of Lazarides

Yes, I am still struggling to take good shots in dim light conditions! Then again, this picture really captures the frenzy that ensued once Lazarides opened it’s doors for it’s 10th Anniversary show at their gallery in Rathbone Place in Central London. Pure mayhem!

Before I could even start checking out the show I needed to head to the freebie table to refill any depleted energy with bottles for Golden Lager and Streetart Marshmellows by Boomf. Tasty!

Recharged and ready for action I threw myself at the show which spread from the basement all the way up the the 3rd floor of the gallery! 

I really wonder if they put something special into the Bristol water supply as it’s uncanny how much this city contributed to global urban culture: Massive Attack, Portishead, Banksy, Nellee Hooper, Breakbeat Era and the one and only Mr Steve Lazarides!

Looking at the walls it becomes clear why Steve Lazarides get credited with being one of the major players in the urban art business: 3D, Aiko, Anthony Lister, Antony Micallef, Banksy, Brett Amory, Chloe Early, David Choe, Doug Foster, Faile, Frank Laws, Gary Taxali, Herbert Baglione, Hush, Ian Francis, Invader, Joe Rush, Jonathan Yeo, JR and many more represent the extensive scope of Lazarides art portfolio.

Pretty sure this is some new work by 3D of Massive Attack…

Seeing all this art on the wall reminded me of the heyday of Pictures On Walls, another one of Lazarides Art ventures. I still remeber the excitement buying my first ( and only ) #Banksy via POW and the queues that would form outside their print shop in Old Street. Their website is still up but I wonder if they release any new prints. 

Climbing up the stairs revealed some tasty #banksys… some of them from the very early days. I must say I prefer his prints to his canvases. I still remember being at his first show in London, upstairs at the Dragon Bar near Old Street Roundabout. An artwork was around £300 and apart from that amount being quite a lot of money for me back then the rats on white plain canvas just never really appealed to me. Ha! If I only knew back then what I know now… *sigh*

What can I say, with the latest investment into his business Lazarides is going from strength to strength!

Here is to the next 10 years…

Still Here: A Decade of Lazarides | 12.2.2016 – 24.3.2016

Wednesday–Saturday 11am–7pm. Admission is free.

Lazarides Gallery | 11 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1HR

Neverended: End of the Line 10th Anniversary Show

February keeps on hammering me with great shows to go to! For two weeks EndoftheLine takes over the entire LondonNewcastle Project Space on Redchurch Street in the heart of Shoreditch with a massive retrospective of the last ten years of East London’s Graffiti, Street Art and Hip Hop scene. 

Matilda and Jim of End of the Line have been very busy the last 10 years organizing amazing art shows , running event spaces like the legendary Rockwell House and being at the core of the London Graffiti scene. Since I moved to London I kept bumping into the two when I wandered around in the East or popped into the Dragon Bar for a cold one. 

It’s great to see how far the two and EndoftheLine progressed in the last 10 years! 

Very impressive was also the scope of featured artists! Jim’s massive murals around London and running the UK side of the Graffiti Blockparty “Meeting of Styles” helped them to connect to the “Who is Who” of local and international Graffiti Writers and Street Artists: Will Barras, Mr Jago, Bom.k, Sowat, Faile, Tizer, Xenz, Sheone, Dan Chase, Ed Hicks, Rabodiga, 45RPM, Candy Lo, Imaone, Suiko, Zoer, Does, Odisy, Dr Zadok, Reeps, Dotmasters, Steff Plaetz and 123 Klan are just a few to mention…

Walking around the show made me feel like I jumped straight into the pages of an issue of VNA magazine! Loved it! My favorite pieces on show came from the always fantastic ROID, Faile, Terratag and Jim Vision who painted an apocalyptic wall that invited the visitor to become the Angel of the Apocalypse! Of cause I had to oblige…

End of the Line made sure that the visitors can immerse themselves in the world of Graffiti, Street Art and music with a series of pop up events the organized in the exhibition space as well. Planned are live art, life drawing classes, music showcases by the 5th Element Agency & Lyrix Organix, pop up feasts and live talks. Follow End of the Line on Facebook for the latest scoop on this!

So what else is there to say for the time being apart from encouraging everybody to check out the exhibition! I personally feel very inspired to hit the canvas myself again actually.

Oh, and they are running a small pop-up shop as well for the duration of the show featuring limited edition prints by many of the featured artists, collectibles and a selection of customized street furniture. Get involved!

KAWS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

What a crazy week this has been!

First Robert Del Naja aka 3D presented new prints and a limited edition EP at the “Ritual Spirit” launch at Lazarides Editions, then Martha Cooper had a big show at Stolenspace gallery (interview is getting posted soon!) and now I had the chance for a meet and greet with the legend that is KAWS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I am exhausted!

As I love the intersection of consumer products and art, KAWS is right up my alley. After starting out as a Graffiti Writer KAWS quickly climbed the ranks thanks to endorsement by big collectors like A Bathing Ape founder NIGO and super producer Pharrell Williams.

I witnessed the guy collaborate with my fave label from back in the day BAPE, launch his own fashion label after, redesign the MTV Video Music Awards statue, collaborate with Kiehl’s and Hennessy and flew his Companion balloon high in the sky at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

KAWS is definitely making moves!

 Image via  dotherpix
Image via dotherpix

But even with all the success with his product design KAWS always pushed his art game too: When he started blowing up his toy designs to epic scale the art world took notice.

After showing his monumental sculptures at the Frieze Art Fair in London, Harbour City in Hong Kong and at CAC Malaga it made sense that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield would order his sculptures for their vast art park and threw a couple of newly commissioned paintings into the mix as well!

One can understand that I was VERY excited when I managed to get two tickets for a meet and greet with KAWS at the YSP and the chance to be one of the first people to see the new show!

As the guided tour started at the ungodly early hour of 8.30AM on a Saturday morning it was all about charging my iPhone and getting an early night. As the sculpture park is approximately 180 miles from London I was lucky to be able to stop over at the place of a good friend and fellow KAWS enthusiast in Nottingham. In order to head to the sculpture park we planned to hit the road early in his car, or as I like to call it, The KAWS-MOBILE!

Arriving at the museum we were greeted by a massive banner and many friends and fellow KAWS-obsessives, all dressed to impress and ready to rock!

First point of call: The merch stall. Enter Through The Gift Shop is how true players of the collecting game roll, trying to avoid missing out on limited goodies like totes bags, note books and postcards. I kept it casual, purchasing only a couple of nice postcards, the exhibition catalogue and a KAWS tote bag that is quite useless thanks to its miniature size. As if form over function ever stopped me…

After some tasty Bacon Sandwiches provided by the museum it was time to man up, face the harsh Northern weather and start to slide down the muddy hills of the sculpture park…

Although the rain was dismal everybody was in good spirits, snapping happily away. Thanks to the perfect preparation of my friend I was equipped with proper boots, keeping my feet warm and dry amongst all the rain and Yorkshire mud. Thanks Gav!

Many of my fellow visitors weren’t that wise… I don’t think I ever saw so many limited edition trainers covered in dirt in my life (RIP those Yeezy Boosts)…

 via  stphndnld
via stphndnld

What can I say, standing in front of a massive representation of a toy you have back home on your shelf is pretty impressive. Honey I Shrunk The Geeks! What’s even more awesome is when suddenly their creator pops onto the scene as well.

After taking a group shot via a hovering drone ( it’s 2016 after all ) the group trekked to the Longside Gallery Space on the other side of the park. Turning down the shuttle bus to the rest of the show was a big mistake, with me barely reaching the other side thanks to my lack of regular exercise.

Things I suffer in the name of art…

The second we reached dry land things got real: An orderly queue was formed almost IMMEDIATELY to get things signed by KAWS. It’s swiftness and efficiency surprised even me, being German and all.

Grails* were pulled left, right and centre to be signed by the man himself.

I can’t praise KAWS enough for taking the time to sign everything that was handed to him. In my case it was the Rizzoli KAWS book from 2010 and the vinyl cover artwork he designed for Kanye West… and a catalogue… and a little scribble… yeah I pushed it a bit…

(*Grail: A extraordinarily limited collectible item that’s on the wish list of many of your fellow collectors) 

It had to be done…

Loved the five new canvasses by KAWS called “Survival Machine”.  Loved the Chums, Accomplices and Companions. Loved meeting up with with friends and meeting the main man. What else can I say? Great success!

After having taken it all in, it was time to head home. Of cause not without a second visit to the gift shop and a longing look at the five prints that were available to buy but to 510% out of my price range…

So what’s the verdict? Great show. KAWS’ clean and colourful style is as eye popping as always and his sculptures make me feel like an ant on a toy shelf. Thumbs up! 

Big thanks as well to Yorkshire Sculpture Park for curating this great show and organizing this awesome InstaMeet!

Now, to the KAWS-MOBILE my friends!!! It has been a pleasure…

Robert Del Naja: Massive Art Attack

Living in London might be expensive, dirty and stressful but you can’t complain about a lack of amazing artists exhibiting on your doorstep.

And nothing makes an middle-aged music lover happier then old favourites returning to form. Not only did Tricky bless a track on Massive Attack’s new “Ritual Spirit” EP with his raspy raps that were so sorely missed after his split with the band but Robert Del Naja went into the print studio of Steve Lazarides to create 6 limited hand-finished record sleeves for it’s vinyl release.

This reminded me that I never really had Robert Del Naja aka 3D down as one of the most important British Graffiti artists which he surely is. Not only did Banksy quote him as an inspiration but he was the first Graffiti writer in Bristol hitting walls as early as 1984, sometimes together with other legendary writers like Goldie. Oh, and he’s colourblind.

Let’s travel back to 1994. Although back then I was aware of their massive hit single “Unfinished Sympathy” the first Massive Attack album that really hit me was “Protection”. The whole Bristol scene really blew up at that time and Trip Hop raised it’s blunted head(z). 

The song “Sly” off “Protection” had the biggest impact one me with it’s John Barry-esque orchestration and Nicole going full on black Geisha. The video features a lot of inverted colour effects which now reminds me a lot of Del Naja’s later paintings.  

The other thing that stuck with me was the collaged cardboard record cover artwork with the weird bubble character and the knife and fork. It felt like Del Naja ripped apart the iconic “Blue Lines” cover to puzzle together the artwork of “Protection” with some added bits stuck on top. 

The artwork for singles “Protection” and especially “Karmacoma” showed off an additional side to Del Najas style: The manic free flowing child like scribbles and sketches channeling Jean-Michel Basquiat.

“Basquiat’s influence was big for me at this point. As well as magazine clippings I had unexpectedly seen his work in a gallery in Tokyo. He painted in a raw and confrontational way. He abused the canvas with chaotic composition and intense primary colours. It wasn’t just his imagery but the juxtaposed cultural references: media saturation, brand communication, power, poverty, African history, colonisation and exploitation. Everything was consumer labeled and the words seemed part-manifesto and part-hit list.” – via The Vinyl Factory

Parallel to Massive Attack another canvas appeared for Del Naja: The record covers of MoWax releases. I am ashamed to say that it never came to my mind that the artwork of seminal MoWax compilations “Headz” and “Headz 2a + b” were created by Del Naja. And I call myself a MoWax expert?

Original “Headz” painting from 1994

3D returned to MoWax again in 2003 for UNKLEs second album “Never Never Land”. Not only did he contribute vocals on track “Invasion” but his artwork sneaks onto the 12″ remix singles and the animated video by Shynola for lead single “Eye for an eye”.

Whilst he abstained from creating artwork for the Massive Attack albums “Mezzanine” and “100th Window”, James Lavelle encouraged him to pick up the paintbrush again to create paintings for his next UNKLE album “War Stories”. Del Naja actually credits Lavelle a lot for getting him back into art. When the band relaunched in 2007 with “War Stories”, showcasing a rockier sound and all new collaborators, Del Naja provided all the visual imagery. 

As with any project involving two perfectionists the “War Stories” vinyl release was more than lush, featuring a sturdy box holding quadruple vinyl and a 50 page booklet with Del Najas paintings.

Del Najas artwork featured heavily on T Shirts, Pins, Remix and Spin Off Albums until UNKLEs “War Story” phase ended with the release of “Where Did The Night Fall” in 2010 .

Artwork for “End Titles”. Image via Sam Freeman

Top left clockwise: “Hold my hand” single, “Restless” single, “End Titles… Redux” album, “War Stories” album

With the “War Stories” artwork behind him, 3D’s artistic vision focused on Massive Attack releases again. With publisher The Vinyl Factory providing the manufacturing the band released three highly limited EP’s in 2009, all featuring screenprinted artwork by 3D.  Sold out in minutes, this trilogy represents the rarest and most expensive pieces of the Massive Attack back catalogue.

Whilst the first EP “Splitting The Atom” still visually echoes UNKLE’s “War Stories”, the “Atlas Air EP” and the collaborative 12″ with Burial focuses on new, minstrel inspired imagery. 

The cover of the 5th Massive Attack album “Heligoland” takes this concept to the next iteration with a minstrel illustration beneath a grey rainbow. The Vinyl Factory again creates a special deluxe version with a triple gatefold sleeve featuring unique black-glitter coated cover artwork by Robert Del Naja, heavyweight vinyl, a CD with the album and an exclusive 28-page booklet, featuring new Robert Del Naja artwork and Massive Attack tour photography. 

“The minstrel on the front cover represents this tendency to recreate a fictional reality to replace real reality. That’s what’s happening now. You create these talent shows and these reality TV shows and you start to replace reality with reality, but the reality you’re looking at is actually manufactured.

The black and grey rainbow came about because I noticed that rainbows are popping up everywhere, all over people’s advertising. It felt that in the manual for the recession someone had gone: “Add colour to your advertising! If you can, add a rainbow! It’ll cheer everyone up and they’ll start spending their money again.” So that’s why I thought, “I’m gonna desaturate the rainbow and present it as it really is”. This rainbow is not going to make you happy. There is no pot of gold.” – via The Independent

I was lucky enough to get a deluxe version of this album and I can say: Not only is the music a return to form, but so is the artwork! 

2013 saw the arrival of the first big solo show of Del Najas paintings in London at Lazarides gallery in Soho. The show carried the title “Fire Sale” and it was it awesome seeing all of Del Naja’s art in one space, connecting all the visual dots.  

As a nice goodie they had leftover screen printed news print available to take away for free which was a nice touch.

Of cause you can’t do such an exhibition without launching a big art book as well… 3D and The Art of Massive Attack! As the book was produced by The Vinyl Factory you knew there’s gonna be a special edition coming as well: So to your left say hello to the the regular version, to the right marvel at the special edition worth £300, featuring extra etched vinyl, a signed print and much more. Drool here.

So what’s next in 2016? Well, another mad limited The Vinyl Factory EP release, another Lazarides supported show and more musical goodness from 3D and Daddy G. This time with added Tricky!

The collecting hustle never stops when you live in London!

Images via 3D’s Instagram

Personally, Massive Attack already released MY favorite collectors item in 1998: The “Singles 90/98” vinyl box set! Packing 11 x 12″inch vinyl featuring all the classic tracks in great remixes, the box itself is heat sensitive and each 12″ sleeve features artwork by 3D. Unfortunately only mass printed and not silk screened but you need to keep things affordable, right?

Ok so back to the beginning: Lazarides Editions, Robert Del Naja and the launch of the new Massive Attack EP, Ritual Spirit. What can I say, I had a great night! And one day I will be able to afford myself a proper 3D piece…

The exhibition runs from 3rd February 2016 to 5th March 2016

Tuesday–Saturday 11am–7pm. Admission is free

Lazarides Editions: 22 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD

Further reading:

The Guardian – Massive Attack’s art of darkness

Clash Magazine – Personality Clash: James Lavelle vs Robert Del Naja

Red Lines – 3D

The Independent – Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja’s massive attack on the art world

For eveything MoWax… ( thanks for the Headz 2 pic )

…oh and: Big shout out to my man MoMatt for providing “Fire Sale” snaps at the last minute!

Dismaland REDUX

I don’t know how he does it but somehow Banksy manages to stay ahead of the pack and makes his at times painfully obvious social critique still enduring and exciting. Maybe that’s because he always finds new ways to come up with exciting ways to present his artwork. 

I am thinking about his New York residency that created awesome stunts like the cuddly toy transporter or the budget art for sale. I am still amazed he managed to pull this off without getting busted…

Picking a run down English coastal town to take over a derelict Tropicana Seaside resort is just another stroke of genius. On my travels around England I was always fascinated by the environment of these places where a sense of dread clashes with amusement rides and cheap booze in the local pub.

So when the tickets got released for his latest collaborative show it was time to fire up Trainline, grab my travel companion Bob Motown and see what all the dismal is about!

It rained heavily on the day with a strong gale battering the installation… perfect weather then! What surprised me was the variety of people visiting: From hipsters, school kids, families with babies all the way to grandma and granddad in their walkers, everybody crawled the different exhibition spaces and queued orderly for Dismal Castle.

I am still amazed how Banksy managed to transcend the walls of Shoreditch and became the Street Art Sensation he is today, leaving a myriad of other stencilled depressed mice and Ronald McDonalds that tried to follow in his footsteps  in the dust.

But well done to him! Love it or hate it… I personally had a dismal time at Dismaland!

I wonder if Blek le rat got himself a ticket too?

Hackney Wicked: Art, Egg baps and Sweet Toofs

Not breaking news: Dalston and Hackney Central are loosing their cool at an alarming rate with drunken Essex boys and girls pouring into the area. The concerned East London Hipster and Hipsterette has only one chance: To go even more East than East! Welcome to Hackney Wick…

Although the craft beer crowd has already landed, Hackney Wick still has this Outer Rim territory feel with its ware houses and grey motorway that runs parallel to the area.

Hackney WickED Art Festival began in summer 2008, springing up from the garden of The Residence Gallery, when a group of local artists decided to coordinate a series of local art events to highlight and celebrate the breadth and diversity of art and creativity in the area. With talks, performances, open studios and much more has been going from strength to strength and what better for an Dalston twat like me to check it all out!

Personally, any visit to an art festival needs to start with a fashionably late and Instagrammable breakfast, at least in my book. So after I grabbed a Hackney Wicked map and program I hit The Hackney Pearl  for a delicious brekky bap made with free range egg mayo, homemade chilli jam and dry cured streaky bacon. YUM-TASTIC! And yes, I got an extra slice of raspberry cake as well because I am awesome…

Another Hackney Wick classic must be surely Vinyl Pimp. So before I hit the art scene I had to have a quick peek… I just love the smell of vinyl in the morning! Plus his wall of wax is always impressive… no love for cheapskates tho!

One thing struck me straight away roaming the streets of Hackney Wick: This is Sweet Toof Land! The iconic skull and pink gums were out in force, often taking up whole buildings. Say what you will about this visual bombing, it surely is impressive.

What I love about Hackney Wicked is that you can check out all these amazing artist studios in their brick warehouse setting.

Artist studios just fascinate me. Somehow an artist studio has a waft of freedom and rebellion about it for me which I just love and gives the art a subtext that’s fascinating. Plus I just love shelves full of stuff!

Before I get hated for not showing enough art… here ya go! 

I finished my visit of Hackney Wicked with a cold beer at CRATE Brewery and will definitely return next year!

Make sure to connect with Hackney Wicked via their website for next year’s festival!