On a recent trip to the Jeffry Museum and the Whitechapel Art Gallery London, we noticed some strange sculpted mushrooms sitting on top of buildings in and around Kingsland Road, Old Street and the Hackney Road. None of us (and we all frequently travel to this area) had spotted them before and fascinated, we couldn’t resist getting the iPad out to look them up. They are indeed mushrooms by an artist called Christiaan Nagel, a young South African working out of London. They are made from polyurethane ‘surfboard foam’, fibreglass and stainless steel and the brightly coloured fungi seem to be popping up or ‘taking root’ all over London.
They also have that Banksy type quality of appearing to sprout up from the cities architecture over night and along with Banksy et al contribute to London’s growing street and urban art scene. Their locations too are symbolic; placed on top of derelict or semi-derelict buildings, where you would expect to find fungus in damp and decaying conditions but juxtaposed by their bright colouring.
Its actually quite addictive attempting to spot them and people have even started to plot the locations on-line. More info on Nagel’s work can be seen here
Its great fun for bored kids in the car too!
In a similar vein but across the pond, Richard Artschwager used his blp’s (a name created by the artist from the word blip) to draw peoples attention to architecture and surfaces that would usually go unnoticed. The lozenge or capsule shaped stickers made of wood or vinyl were stuck to unexpected places like a smokestack (illustrated); the art itself useless but serving the purpose of directing the viewer to the urban landscape around it.
Unfortunately Artschwager passed away a few years ago and we are unsure wether any of his blps are still extant. A series were produced last year in New York as part of a Whitney Museum retrospective. We would love to hear from anyone who knows the whereabouts of any.
An interesting account of the blp’s can be found here.blp