Bish Vegas Legal Graff, painters of the Stan Laurel mural on Railway Street, have opened a pop-up exhibition at No. 42, in Bishop Auckland Market Place, reports Josie Eldridge.
The exhibition can be viewed on weekdays from 9.30am until 4.30pm and will run until Friday 10th December.
Dan Walls, owner of Illumination Wall Art and one of the group’s co-founders said: “We have a good mix of work here from a fantastic group of artists including Michael Clarke, who was a big part of the Stan Laurel mural and lots of our regulars including Eyes, Nick, Joe80, Nee Bosh, Cal One, Pork, Decent People’s Art, Real and Mul”.
There are also works also from Graham Cleland, Bishop Auckland Parish’s youth pastor – whose work has been displayed outside St Mary’s Church in the Market Place.
Varied and colourful
The art style is varied and colourful, and Dan describes the group as “a wild mix of artists with lots of different interests which comes through in our work. You can see elements of illustration, stencil, pop art cartoons, typography, tattoos, flash, digital design and fine art.
“I think due to us often working big with spray cans, graffiti can be the glue that binds us all together.”
His aims for the project were to bring street-based work indoors and to challenge some of the associations made about graffiti.
“I really wanted to showcase what we could do on a smaller scale and in a gallery setting – often with street art you can be quite polarised,” he said.
He praised the skill of the artists from the legal wall, saying that they “have all sorts of really strong art laid about at home in books or on canvases that never gets any appreciation”.
He was grateful for the recognition and partnership of Jilly Keats and the team at No.42, noting that it’s a good time of year to show work indoors, as more people can visit in all weathers.
Dan hopes that the month-long exhibition will launch “more pop up exhibitions around the town, then hopefully more work being shown in and out of The Art Bunker”, with some taking the form of ‘street jams’ at the Art Bunker on Chelsea Street in warmer weather.
The group also plan to host a second exhibition from December 12th to the new year at the home of their legal graffiti project. The Art Bunker exhibition will be from Wednesdays to Saturdays, 5-9pm.
The artists in the group are prolific, which was helpful when bringing the exhibition together in a different space.
Dan said: “We are always making work and playing around with concepts, but if it doesn’t work on a large scale it often gets forgotten about.
“However with getting the chance to exhibit, we were able to revisit the old ideas and also create new parts that complement it.
“For example, a canvas from three years ago may have something really good on it but may have a sense about it that something is missing. We can take a look and think about what we could adapt or add for a gallery setting or update it to suit a new style.
“Much like our legal wall it’s a constantly changing entity, but scaled down.”
While the exhibition does not have an underlying theme, the works have “a strong underground street art element” with varying inspiration, such as the 80’s, hip-hop, punk rock, sci-fi, fantasy, skateboarding, and comic books.
It is these elements which demonstrate the diversity within the group and the link between the art and popular culture, or counterculture. The exhibition demonstrates how the Legal Wall has helped contributing artists to learn from and be inspired by each other.
Good partnerships have enabled the exhibition to be possible, from the artists of Bish Vegas Legal Graff, The Auckland Project, No. 42 and The Art Bunker.
Dan added that most of the exhibiting artists have their own businesses, including himself, Graham Cleland’s The Real Graffiti Company and Chloe Exodus’s Decent People’s Art.
Entry is free, and many original works and prints are available for sale.
The emphasis is on promoting the work and giving a platform to “underrated talent”.
Since the Bishop Press story on the Stan Laurel mural (Issue 301), Dan noted that the legal wall project is “growing constantly, with lots of walls being donated”, so the group can feature work across the town.
The group is seeking funds for paint and supplies to enable further artists to join and continue the momentum they have started.
Funds raised from the exhibition will support the artists and the group’s ‘Only Canz’ fund. The fund is on PayPal and open to donations via firstname.lastname@example.org. Patrons can also donate old decorating supplies at The Smokehouse on Railway Street.
Dan hopes that the work will appeal to a cross-section of residents, including younger people, and to inspire interest in trying a hand at the legal wall. He added that the exhibition will showcase that graffiti can be a positive force in regenerating the town.
The group hope that with the financial support of the Town Council and patrons, along with consent for further walls, they will be able to create an art crawl across the town in summer.