East Ended

Dougie Wallace

Exhibition of 'SHOREDITCH' in the East End by iconic zeitgeist documentary photographer.

Recognised as one of the UK’s leading photographers Dougie Wallace has successfully published five previous books.

East Ended reflects on gentrification and how this process triggers an ambiguous and often fraught relationship between freely expressed street art and commerce, public space and billboard, local community and global capital.

The transformation of London’s East End from urban decay to fashionable is the ultimate example of the power of street art to regenerate a neighbourhood to make it attractive to the emerging creative class.

Street art was once simply graffiti, a sign of decay that lowered property values. Fast forward to the transformation of London’s East End and it became cool. Seen as ‘gritty’ and ‘edgy’, street art generates interest in an area. Refashioned, and made acceptable, it transforms public space as areas become high-priced, trendy and attractive to the emerging creative class. Its ‘edge’ and sense of ‘authenticity’ become a means to speed up gentrification. Yet as property prices rise, the high cost of living forces out those artists who created the art as well as the local residents. Never was this truer than in London’s Shoreditch where these images are shot – an open-air showcase of urban art that generates considerable tourism.

 

Graffiti now appears in galleries and museums worldwide. Artists who were once hoodied, hidden and nocturnal are out in the open, working in broad daylight from cherry-picker platforms.

 

Commissioned by corporate brands such as Adidas and Gucci they offer creative interventions into the urban landscape, images of coolness and affluence – in murals destined to become Instagrammable propaganda. In East Ended you see every code of cool fashion and attitude, alongside scenes of poverty and people on the streets trading in anything but the cool. Gentrification has brought a numbing sameness. Yet look carefully and you’ll spot the cheeky protest posters – political critique to climate change resistance – purposefully plastered over and defacing the ads. The voice of the streets is reclaiming its walls.

He has been the subject of a 30 minute BBC documentary as part of the series 'What Do Artists Do All Day' and has exhibited widely in Europe, the United States and India.

'For his latest book, 'East Ended', Dougie Wallace focuses on the characters and street art of heavily graffitied Brick Lane, Redchurch Street and Sclater Street in Shoreditch, an area of east London that has rapidly gentrified in recent years but still has a subversive identity.'

The Guardian