Wednesday, 21 February 2018

To The Power Of Three

Scale is nothing important in street art, otherwise only the biggest murals would count. A few years back curiosity was stoked by bizarre little cement structures appearing on the streets. Someone on the London scene a bit smarter and better connected identified the artist as 3x3x3. 3x3x3 has a Flickr profile, 56 followers (!) and that really is about all that was known other than 3x3x3 hailed from Hong Kong, or so it seemed.

3x3x3 Oct 2011
October 2011, (yes, that is a 5 yr old Faile stencil)

September 2015

Where photos in this mess of waffle are followed by a date, it is the date that these minute sculptures were chanced upon by Graffoto, which probably bears no relation to the date they were installed by Three or if they do it is pure fluke.

As waves of these concrete sculptures kept appearing they continued to fascinate. In 2013 beautiful metalwork sculptures appeared and were duly written about on the Shoreditch Street Art Tours blog, more sculptures appeared and then among the intermittent miniature monuments a “My name is 3” sticker was found and at that point it seemed that the question could no longer be avoided…your name is Three but who are you?

3x3x3 Metal Tag
November 2013

It turns out that Three is a regular visitor to the UK but he is based in Hong Kong so a chat over a couple of beers and a recorder wasn’t going to happen. Three’s patient answers to a long list of questions proved to be so poetic that they stand on their own as a monologue so here in his own words is The Power Of Three:

I was born in London but I came to live in Hong Kong when I was 4. I studied at art school in U.K. [East Ham & Bath] then returned here to HK.

To me the pieces echo the architecture of cities. Some brutalist buildings, some natural rock formations , motorway bridges etc. I enjoy walking in the mountains and the city.

July 2016

I make the originals from Plasticine then make a silicone mould in which to cast the cement. I have a idea of the shape I wish to create and sometimes make sketches. As I cut pieces of Plasticine and build the piece, the work evolves and I keep trying things until I'm satisfied with the shape. The moulds can be used many times I've got around 20 now, not all are out on the street much, some I've put up multiples over the years.

July 2016

I started in 2003, I had seen graffiti, Banksy's stencils and Space Invader's tile pieces around. I was inspired and wanted to get involved in this non-commercial art movement. I thought these tiny sculptures would be a new take on the streetart idea. It's also nice that people took an interest in seeing art in the street.

I'm usually in London in August / September as a break from the heat of Hong Kong and I often do a few missions. The tile glue I use needs to stay dry overnight while it sets so weather is a factor.

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Ironmongery tag, London, October 2013

I usually walk around and look for spots that are suitable. I think about how the light will fall on them or cast a shadow. I used to place them in rather hidden locations, where they may blend in a bit too well but now I go for spots that already have some streetart around. I kind of like that they may go unnoticed, remaining sometimes for years.

I try not to place them inappropriately, the tile glue can be hard to remove so heritage buildings etc. are out.  When I visit friend's places I often will sneakily place one somewhere on their house.

The sculptures appear overnight like mushrooms and maybe people wonder "what is that?" If they take a closer look they hopefully realize that some time has been spent crafting them but I suspect most are possibly unsure of their purpose.

I use a combination of monikers with the number 3. When I was first getting into graffiti I thought about "what is in a name ?", so decided to be just a number. There a lots of design possibilities with the shape of the number and it also has plenty of cultural references. My mates at Eggshell Stickers gave me a pack of "Hello my name is" stickers so I thought I'd better use 'em up. I think there was around 12 stuck up one night in September last year.

My Name Is...3

I'm a freelance artist and I try to make a living from art related activities when possible. I did a lot of antique restoration in the past, I've also put on exhibitions and made sculpture installations. I sometimes work with a crew called "Start From Zero" making furniture and event related installations. I really enjoy using tools and materials. I pick up skills from where ever I can.

Electronics is something I have learned from the net over the last few years and am now building synth modules. For me it's one more useful method for making art. I make all my modules a round shape, it's awkward but I want them to have a sculptural aspect, I think about the aesthetics of the placement of the components and colour of the wires.

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"Noise Toaster", photo Three

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"Dual Phonograph", photo Three

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"Moog Ladder", photo Three

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"Kinetic Sculpture", photo Three

I have also made some kinetic art pieces using these methods, sound making sculptures built both for their look and the noise produced.

My most recent show was for HK Walls, a group exhibition and streetart event that takes place every year here. I hope to be installing some cement things for them again this March.


February 2016

So, process, background rationale have been established but let’s look a bit closer at the passerby's experience of Three’s street art. Three’s sculptures exist in the dim margins of your vision, you never go out looking for Three’s work because photographs tend to be so close-up that there is no context and no clues to location. Three’s sculptures play a game of chance, your chance of discovery against their chance of evading detection, when you notice one it feels like a lottery win.

January 2016

Three’s art does not scream for attention, check the “My Name Is 3” sticker earlier on, even when he does introduce his name on the street the preliminary civilities have been carefully lined out, he’s not introducing himself, just quietly stating his name. Three is an interesting word, it suggests triangularity; it is a number as well as a word; it is the number of axis in a cube and when we talk about the cube of a number, we mean “raising to the power of Three”. We are starting to poke at the flexibility built into Three’s choice of identity, take his ID, raise it to the power of three and you have what is in some circles (avoid!) expressed as 3x3x3, another variant on his pseudonym.

October 2013

Their understated presence means that even if you find a miniature block once, you may not notice it next time you pass by. Then weeks later you chance upon it again and it is like a renewal, a re-discovery “Ahhh yes, Three’s sculpture, still there!” Then you start to doubt, is it the same one, did I spot this before, is it a new one in the same spot?

So you photograph it and then when you get back to base and compare with previous photographs you notice how Three’s sculptures change. They silently adopt fresh camouflages each time someone with a spraycan and an eye on a big mural sweeps another dusting of aerosol paint across the lurking sculpture.

August 2017

Early February 2018

Late February 2018

Even a slight shift in viewpoint dramatically changes how the artefact looks, you could even convince your self from two photos at different angles that you had photographed two different specimens.

Oct 2017 - Angle (A)

Oct 2017, same piece, viewed from about 45 degrees around vertical axis

Brutalist is a word often used to describe Three’s sculptures and in their raw state, the concrete appearance, the flecks of grit, the embedded stones and other artifacts for sure suggest a detail from a brutalist building. Three describes them as miniature echoes of a concrete cityscapes, and most observers will see mausoleum blocks and towers in miniature though such things are relative, to an ant they would be glorious cathedrals.

October 2015

The placement of a Three sculpture is a result of a complex assessment, a hunt for suitable spots in which context is surprisingly significant. In this 3x3x3 sculpture has the chocolate mouse colour of the aggregate and the darker tones of the grit been matched carefully against the brick and cement of the Old Truman Brewery? The world is a better place if we assume it was.

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January 2018

Each little piece of Three's art captures within its tiny abstract form so much of what make street art so fascinating.  Each one represents a tiny secret - how many people look for naughty non permissioned accretions like this? Each one has so much intrigue about its purpose or its charming lack thereof, and mystery about its creation and creator though perhaps a little less now in Three's case!

Photos: Dave Stuart except Three where stated

August 2014

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Tonight The Pavements Are Ours

One of the many justifications given by street artists for their wanton abuse of other people’s property is that it's a response, a push back against the use of the public visual space to host corporate propaganda, known in the indoctrinating the masses trade as advertising. One of Graffoto’s favourite proponents of advertising resistance is dr.d who has long chosen to turn the enemies’ tactics against themselves; his subversion, sedition and perversion of the political sphere is frequently conducted on hijacked billboards and street signage.

Dr D - HMP London
dr.d, Dalston, 2010

Now, in partnership with Chu, another English graffiti writer and artist whose work we have long admired, see the stunning rooftop anamorphic street scene below, Worship The Ground has been established to allow anyone to have a short message temporarily painted on the streets.

Chu - Cordy House, 2010

In their own words:

A pioneering, personal street art message delivery service launches this month.

Worship The Ground (WTG) is a brand new online service, empowering members of the public to order a written phrase or slogan for any location on the ground. WTG will first launch in London and Bristol, with Brighton and Manchester soon to follow. The new company is co-founded by Chu and dr.d, two legendary wordsmiths known for their work in the public environment.

photo courtesy Worship The Ground

WTG works for good people and good causes. Direct Messages are for personal use only, advertisers need not apply. WTG can write on the pavement whatever you can write on paper, up to 100 characters in a choice from one of ten bright colours. The new website is now available to visit at Until Friday February 28th, visitors can use the discount coupon code “worshiptheground” at the checkout stage for a fifty percent off the basket total.
dr.d explains “Our Direct Message gift is useful for celebrating a birthday written on someone’s route to their workplace, or declarations of love between couples outside their front door. They could write messages of frustration with a football fans manager outside the team’s ground, and crucially our service is to get any message across by making someone’s day, or not.”

photo courtesy Worship The Ground

WTG have already helped to champion good causes in conjunction with the Mayor of London’s anti knife crime initiative (#LondonNeedsYouAlive) and the homelessness charity Centrepoint (#BleakFriday). {end quote}

Many of you may recognise the title of this post as a paraphrasing of the Richard Hawley song “Tonight The Streets Are Ours”, used as the theme tune to Banksy’s street art mockumentory Exit Through The Gift Shop. Worship The Ground are offering exactly that, your message on the pavements, max 100 characters, with no risk of you getting caught red handed. Or green handed, or white handed or any of the ten colours the service is offered in.

photo courtesy Worship The Ground

If you are concerned about the legality of this, let’s just say that perhaps you don’t have the right cheeky sense of humour required to appreciate the opportunities presented here and which lies at the heart of a large slew of street art. The Worship The Ground website says, and their FAQs (“this section is devoted to the word “no”) are well worth reading for a laugh, “Can I get arrested for booking a text message?
Answer: No – it is a lawful requirement for us to cleanse any markings within 48 hours of notification, unless the rain and/or traffic has worn it away already.”

photo courtesy Worship The Ground

dr.d is not known for his expertise in advising and interpreting the law or even being aware of its existence but there is perhaps a relevant analogy in the world of flyposting. All those illegal adverts for raves, records and recreational activities feature a lot major corporates using illegal flyposting as part of their eyeball reach manoeuvres but it’s not those companies that get into trouble and it is not even the advertising companies that commission the flyposting organisations that get into trouble, if anyone gets into trouble it is the flyposting teams. Perhaps people using Worship The Ground’s service have a similar degree of separation between themselves and some kind of offense.

Dr D sees things from every angle

Graffoto is noted for its complete legal incompetence and nothing said on here should be treated as a get out of jail free card. But like we hinted at earlier, if you do intend to take legal advise first then this really isn’t going to fit your Valentine’s Day cupid strategy. In fact why are you still reading this? Be gone. Unsubscribe!

photo courtesy Worship The Ground

Worship The Ground website
dr.d website
Chu website
All photos Dave Stuart except courtesy Worship The Ground website where noted

Monday, 5 February 2018

Adrian Boswell - Broccoli Man

Do you recall broccoli panic gripping the nation in Spring 2017? Something to do with the weather led to crop failure in Spain which triggered a desperate broccoli shortage in England. It is not known if the Cobra committee met to discuss rationing.

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Waitrose steeled itself for riots and Fortnum and Masons dusted off the crowd control barriers but, amidst all this green vegetable mayhem, someone started to make light of such woes. Real broccoli started to appear in art on Shoreditch walls!

Adrian Boswell - Broccoli Man


Each sculptural assembly had an image of a bearded gentleman with hands and feet and a broccoli body, welcome Broccoli Man!!!! Broccoli Man appeared on mirrored surfaces at regular intervals from January 2017, then in March started to become a little surreal, the natural greens of the broccoli were replaced by reds.



Broccoli Man's placement was often witty, such as on this huge flyposter advertising a tv program about the world’s favourite recreational plant!

Broccoli adbusting

I got to meet Broccoli Man in person in Café 1001 at the Old Truman Brewery when a very friendly chap introduced himself as Adrian Bowell, the artist behind the face in the broccoli. It transpires that in addition to being someone who regards broccoli onto walls as normal, Adrian is a quite incredible collage artist.

Acid Rain Original Collage gbp1600
Acid Rain - original collage

Hairpin Original GBP2700
Hairpin - original collage

Adrian can be found in his small gallery on Brick Lane at the Old Truman Brewery, just ask around for the Broccoli Man.

Adrian Boswell

Adrian is a quiet spoken, industrious indeed prolific artist, he acknowledges that his bursts of activity and work ethic can see him spending 30 hour stints in his studio working continuously with sleep.


Adrian has a number of projects in the pipeline including opening a gallery abroad, taking the broccoli street art concept to another level and, of course, producing more studio art. He is also engaged on an ambitious book project, hoping to produce a book a year for 10 years.


This year’s must have broccoli bling is gold and recently a rainbow spectrum of broccoli appeared.

Gold Broccoli Man - Adrian Boswell

Rainbow Broccoli Man (also feat Urbansolid and smot)

On the theme of broccoli, Graffoto does like to pride itself on digging deep, rooting out the story behind the story and we found that the whole broccoli situation has been monitored by a quite sinister sounding Office For National Statistics and they actually have a broccoli price index. Yes! An index solely and exclusively for monitoring the price of broccoli.

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Broccoli RPI, technically known as GK8E, courtesy The Government

You think I make everything up, or you can’t tell what I make up and what might be real and frankly often I can’t either and you may with justification think “if this is put together by government whizz kid economists, how come they can’t spell Broccoli?” but this index is real, check it out here.

The really bizarre sinister thing is how those secretive government economist boffins have completely erased the broccoli crisis from history. The index is more or less as flat as a pancake throughout spring 2017, like the broccoli crisis never happened. In fact they want us to believe that the broccoli price has more than halved in the past 4 years, clearly the public perception and all the newspaper drama was fake news.

In the most recent installations in Shoreditch, gold Broccoli Man has appeared imprisoned in a cage, this may be a coded message from Broccoli Man; concerns for his wellbeing are mounting.

Gold Broccoli in a cage

More extracts from "Forgotten Dreams, Adrian Boswell Collage artist, 2018

"Road Flooded"

S'Fear Not

Exhibition at Foreman's Smokehouse, Hackney Wick

Movements In Space/The Murky Sea

PS - If by the time you read this the government is spelling broccoli correctly that will be a clear sign they have been spying on Graffoto.  Conversely, if they still are spelling it wrong they are not doing their job of spying on Graffoto properly.

Link: Adrian Boswell website
All photos: Dave Stuart except Gallery artwork photos from Adrian Boswell website
Additional sources: Websites of The Times, The Daily Telegraph,,, Office For National Statistics

Friday, 26 January 2018

Cartoonneros and Pure Evil: Wordplay


Cartoonneros and Pure Evil

Pure Evil Gallery

Thursday 25th January - one night only

In 2006, people with no discernible creative talent were invited by Banksy to Cans Festival to make some spray paint art. I don't think have picked up a spray can since. Oh, to avoid doubt, Banksy also thought to invite some pretty awesome artists and for some of them Cans Festival proved to be a career launch pad (Hello Vhils & that French guy).

Cans Festival Poster
Original Cans Festival Poster, Banksy, 2008

Tonight the Pure Evil Gallery rocked to the sound of Pure Evil DJing (nothing by The Fall while I was there) and stencilled art supervised by Argentinian street artist Cartoonneros.

image courtesy Pure Evil Gallery

Now, a few weeks ago while most of you were wondering why mince pies counted double on your waistline I came across a building site hoarding with a fresh collection of stencilled portraits and being of a man of respectable vintage with impeccable musical taste I could see that the image represented none other than the lead singer of Radiohead, Thom Yorke.

Cartoonneros, underlying background by King Headswim

The memorable thing about this collection was that in going over existing artwork, the underlying naïve expressionist portrait with its compelling blue eyes radiated through Cartnoonneros’ work in a way not visible to the naked eye.

Around the corner were more multi coloured stencilled portraits, similarly executed over someone else’s existing artwork as opposed to a prepared background. Instantly recognisable in the middle was David Bowie, on the right Syd Barrett I had no clue about, let’s be honest Pink Floyd never sold themselves on their looks, and I am embarrassed to admit the Dalai Lama on the left turned out to be Keith Haring.

Keith Haring, David Bowie, Syd Barrett

A day later I had the pleasure of bumping into Cartoonneros on the streets whipping up some more rapido stencils, this time the images included Vincent Van Gogh and Kate Moss.

Cartoonneros in action

Kate Moss by Cartoonneros

Cartoonneros explained that he usually employed three stencilled layers in his street art portraits but that he would often spray different colours in different parts of the stencil, meaning that a single layer could be used to render multiple colours. In this next photo you can actually see the three different stencil layers used for the Van Gogh portrait are in position and each card bears the spraypainted remnants of the various colours from previous uses of the stencil.

The many faces of Vincent Van Gogh

Cartoonneros' stencils possess the absolute essence of street art functionality: speed and repeated use.

Vincent x6

Jimi Hendrix

Salvador Dali

Cartoonneros is also a master sticker maker, I had found several of his quite small stickers lurking in alleyways and I was quite bowled over when I bumped into him that he kindly gave me a few.

Kate Moss sticker

Stickers: gift from the artist received with thanks

Cartoonneros then nipped to Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin to spread his magic but the lure of Shoreditch was too great and he returned tonight to co-host "Wordplay" with Pure Evil, an evening of art and music. The simple idea was all were welcome to spray stencilled words over a background pre- sprayed by Cartoonneros with a collection of multicoloured stencilled turtle and Keith Haring images.

The stencilled words were machine cut into plastic sheets making them pretty durable and you could spray any colour you liked so long as it was close to the ultraviolet end of the visible spectrum.

The words were robust and expressive: vagina, penis, man, woman, love, fuck, addict; words that some who fail to see the context might even regard as naughty.  I had a few goes. Man Dignity? Utterly meaningless. Perhaps something that Trump might splutter. That one attempt though was all it took to convince me I owned the multi coloured blended spraypaint stencil thing.


Who doesn't love Keith Haring? Another red/blue blend, on a roll here.

Graffoto/Cartoonneros collaboration ;-)

Here is a little clip of the master Pure Evil, I shouldn’t really comment on this but notice his failure to overspray onto the huge expanses of negative space around the stencil ;-) [insert shrug emoji when Blogger gets hip with that kind of thing in a few years]

This is a step by step guide to the transition of a complete newbie to a master under the watchful gaze of Cartoonneros:

Step 1: pick stencils, happily a proper artist has already done the hard bit, cutting the stencil.


Step 2: Spray a bit of pink down one side


Step 3: a bit of red down the other


Step 4: a bit of blue up the middles, some red lines through the centre and hey presto, a masterpiece!

One of the charms of the stencil is the manner in which chance comes into play with rendition of the stencil subtly different to the last with variations of speed and density of spray. Or perhaps it is just schoolboy errors like spraying your stencilled piled one on top of the other.


Combine naughty minds and naughty words, add in some free French beer and soon the art becomes a little less philosophical and a bit more terrace based.


Many years ago, alcohol steeped reviews of opening nights at the Pure Evil gallery were staple of Graffoto’s musings. Tonight's “happening” was quintessential old school Pure Evil in that it involved an overseas artist with a street art pedigree previously virtually unknown on these shores who pops out of Pure Evil’s little black book of contacts to exhibit in the gallery whilst also creating a bit of beautiful mayhem on the streets. Like it’s still 2007!

Everyone and everything at Pure Evil's Gallery is cool


Cartoonneros Instagram
Pure Evil Gallery website
King Headswim Instagram
All photos Dave Stuart except gallery flyer courtesy Pure Evil Gallery