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.
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.
“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”.
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.”
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.”
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
* Hip Hop Raised Me by DJ Semtex (Thames Hudson), paperback £19.45, hardback £26
* Dalston Minicabs is in Winchester Place (off Kingsland High Street), Hackney E8 2PG (020 7275 8900)
* All pictures © David. Altheer@gmail.com, and all for sale for reproduction.
* Emboldened underscored words indicate a hyperlink.
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