Hip-hop raised up this Dalston street art — a few minutes with a sledgehammer smashed it down

Carleen©DA18: graffitist Carleen De Sözer's hip-hop graffito in Winchester Place Dalston London E8 © david,com 051017
Not seeing eye to eye: MC Lyte on the E8 wall now and, below, as the artist intended

Carleen©DA17: graffitist Carleen De Sözer at work on her hip-hop graffito in Winchester Place Dalston London E8 © david,altheer@gmail,com 051017

Carleen©DA18: graffitist Carleen De Sözer's hip-hop graffito in Winchester Place Dalston London E8 © david,com 051017
No entry! How to keep art out of the picture: just place a door in the face

LIKE A GOLDEN FLARE these hip-hop walls lit up a scrappy corner of Dalston but now art has fallen victim to philistinism. 

The portraits, entitled Hip-hop Raised Me, were painted at the corner of Winchester Place and Birkbeck Mews only a year ago by North London artist Carleen De Sözer.

One of the walls the series adorns has been punctured where bricks have been knocked out for a small window and a big door. 

The minicab firm that occupies the premises sublet a section to another small firm, which immediately set about altering the Birkbeck Mews E8 2LE wall with no apparent thought for the art.

Carleen©DA18Ali: graffitist Carleen De Sözer's hip-hop graffito in Winchester Place Dalston London E8 showing minicab firm chief Ali Hussain © david.altheer@gmail.com 240818
Ali Hussain and his Bollywood quiff have pole position at the minicab office

Loving Dalston spoke to the minicab operator Ali Hussain, who said of the street art: “We did not charge the artist to use the wall.”

But isn’t street art so respected post-Banksy that premises often have to pay the artist, not vice-versa?

“Perhaps,” he said, “but there was street art already on the walls — it had been there for 30 years or so — and she (De Sözer) happily painted over that.

Carleen©DA17: graffitist Carleen De Sözer at work on her hip-hop graffito in Winchester Place Dalston London E8 © david,altheer@gmail,com 25091
Queen Latifah gazes out regally on Dalston as in the background De Sözer works on a chilly autumn day last year. All photographs © David.Altheer[at]gmail.com
 “I’ve had to let the Birkbeck end of the building to a firm for storage. They’re renting that part, so if they need to put in a window… well, they have to make a living.

“But I have told them that they must not do anything to the paintings on the other side, the Winchester Place end.”

On that wall is a portrait of Hussain. 

Pressed by Loving Dalston, Hussain said that De Sözer was “welcome to paint the hip-hop stars back on to the wall”.

Carleen©DA18Winch: Carleen De Sözer's hip-hop graffito in Winchester Place Dalston London E8 © david.altheer@gmail.com 240818
Do not disturb: this Hip Hop Raised Me wall is safe, says Mr Minicab

 The artist, whose creations are known for their rich yellow tone, responded via Loving Dalston: “I will not be repainting anything on that man’s building.”

“I don’t do much free art but when I do I expect my work to be respected. In this case it has not been.

“If Ali would like to pay me to come back and paint, I will take on the commission.”

Careen©DA18dam: damaged Carleen De Sözer hip-hop portraits in Dalston London E8 © david.altheer@gmail.com 280818
Close-up view shows that 2018’s uber-cold early spring followed by a record-dry summer, has not been kind to De Sözer’s Dalston portraits

DJ Semtex, BBC Radio 1Xtra broadcaster and author, said: “Carleen De Sözer is an amazing artist who is respected by musicians worldwide. Her work beautifully documents London culture, lifestyle, and experience. 

“That the Wireless festival featured her work is testament to her significance and relevance. 

“Carleen’s work should be protected and revered.” 

Loving Dalston asked Hackney council and the Hackney Society to see if further damage could be prevented and the work restored.

Several days later the council responded that it could do nothing because the premises was privately owned. Asked whether a planning application was necessary, or had been made, for the alterations to the front of the building, the staffer agreed to take that up with the planning department.

David Altheer 280818

Carleen©DA17: graffitist Carleen De Sözer at work on her hip-hop graffito in Winchester Place Dalston London E8 © david,altheer@gmail,com 25091
Let us spray: De Sözer

* Backstory: Great faces of rap in Dalston; A Banksy? Yours in Stokey, £80kHackney street art goes on canvasStreet – or streetwise – art?

* Hip Hop Raised Me by DJ Semtex (Thames Hudson), paperback £19.45, hardback £26

All pictures © David. Altheer [at] gmail.com, and all for sale for reproduction.

* Emboldened underscored words indicate a hyperlink

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