Thursday, 11 August 2011

Silver lining: other people's street art

Much of what bothers me about the street art scene is very similar to what bothers me about the riots that have just happened in my neighborhood. The dick swinging, the macho aggression, the half-assed politics and the consumerism lurking beneath it all.

When the riot started in Hackney, I hopped a fence into an off-limits construction site in East London where they are building the Olympic stadium. But I wasn't there to cause any trouble or do anything illegal. I was there to pick ripe, delicious blackberries. It's a site I often go to forage. Two weeks earlier, I picked mulberries and some dyer's chamomile for dying wool.  It was then that I spotted these lovely anonymous stencils.

They are there to inform people of the wild edibles they can find for free along the canal. This one points out the abundance of peppery wild rocket next to the wall. Something you can buy after it's been shipped hundreds of miles and refrigerated for days in the supermarket. 

Part of the stencil is a handy silhouette of the plant to help you identify it properly. Although on that day in the warm sun, I could actually smell it.

Blackberries are one of the few wild edibles that people still know how to identify and regularly forage for. Often, you really can be too late to the blackberry party in and around London. I'm not going to criticize their misspelling of bramble on this one because...

...bless them, they remade their stencil and came back to show people where more blackberries were. 

In an atmosphere reeking of self-interest and greed (from all parts of society) it was so refreshing to see someone else doing nothing more than sharing some free knowledge with whoever was interested. Although they are anonymous, if you know who is responsible, I'd love to give them credit.

I also had fun riding around this giant piece on the foundation of a demolished building in the shadow of the new Olympic stadium.

I have massive concerns (that I'm still very much processing) around what both the Olympics and the riots will do to the city where I live. This is not about those dark clouds though and I will certainly be back with more of my own art and reaction soon.

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