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‘Iconic’ Shoreditch street art wall at risk as The Stage development draws closer

PUBLISHED: 10:05 04 January 2017 | UPDATED: 11:12 05 January 2017

An ad on the artwall to promote BAFTA membership

An ad on the artwall to promote BAFTA membership

Archant

The future of a wall for street artists - which is known the world over and has raised over £100,000 for charity - is in jeopardy, as The Stage development draws closer to completion. EMMA BARTHOLOMEW finds out more about the Shoreditch Art Wall.

Street artist Louis Gomez' work on the art wallStreet artist Louis Gomez' work on the art wall

The future of a world-famous wall promoting up-and-coming street artists is in doubt due to a £715m development set to transform the area.

The iconic Shoreditch Art Wall where the likes of Ant Carver, Gnasher, Louis Gomez and rap artist MF Doom have painted – and marriage proposals have been made – could only be around for another three months.

In the five years since it was set up by Peter Mackeonis, ads for companies like Nike, Burberry, Jonny Walker and Microsoft have raised over £100,000 for charities including Save the Children and the Save Syria’s Children fund.

The wall has featured its fair share of marriage proposalsThe wall has featured its fair share of marriage proposals

Mr Mackeonis came up with the idea for the art wall when he was visiting his sister Bernice Selvey, whose husband Peter founded Peter the Pleater blinds shop. The store’s premises are surrounded by the art wall, but the shop has just closed after losing a two year fight with the council to remain.

Hackney Council, which owns the wall, gave Mr Mackeonis permission to paint it.

But now the construction of Galliard Homes’ multi-million pound 37-story luxury apartment and office complex, The Stage, is threatening it. The Stage will preserve the site of Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre after which it is named.

Baroness Grey Thompson looks at an image of herself on the artwallBaroness Grey Thompson looks at an image of herself on the artwall

Mr Mackeonis, who manages the art wall from his home in California, said: “The concept was to develop art in Shoreditch and to give the artists a canvas. Effectively we worked with hundreds of artists who have come in from around the world – it’s become iconic.

“We have artists from Brazil Australia, America, Germany - we let them rip. We ask for examples of their previous work and as long as they are artists they can paint exactly what they like. It’s become quite a centre, we have had people contact us from the US saying “We will be in town can we book the wall?” and as long as it’s available they can.”

They have also promoted the likes of the Princes Tust employment charity, Elton John AIDS Foundation artists, Peter Gabriel’s human rights WITNESS programme, and the campaign for testicular cancer #checkyournuts, as well as an anti-child bride campaign.

Ant Carver's work on the art wallAnt Carver's work on the art wall

Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson unveiled a mural of herself there highlighting the need for wheelchair access. And Michael Bates who walked an epic 3,000 miles from Olympia to London in support of a peace resolution during the London Olympic Games unveiled the ‘Walk for Truce’ mural there.

Mr Mackeonis said: “We have had wedding proposals and they walked their girlfriends past and there’s this huge ad saying “Will you marry me” on it - we do that for free. We give a lot of the money to charity, and when we do charge for it, it supports our other activities - it’s not really a profit centre for us.”

Initially developer Galliard Homes wanted them out by December 31 because they wanted to advertise their own development. But now they have given the wall permission to operate until March 31, on the condition they can use the first panel to advertise The Stage.

Street artist Gnasher's work on the art wallStreet artist Gnasher's work on the art wall

“We don’t know if it’ll be knocked down, the developers aren’t telling us,” said Mr Mackeonis.

“Because it’s part of a railway arch, they might take it down for access into the yard - the words the developers used is they have “plans for it themselves”. We’ll see what a sad loss that’s going to be.”

He continued: “It would be nice to have a bit of Shoreditch left - otherwise it’ll end up looking like Singapore, all steel and skyscrapers, and we’ll ask where did London go. It’s fast disappearing.”

Street artist Pang's work on the art wallStreet artist Pang's work on the art wall

Galliard Homes did not respond to the Gazette’s request for comment.

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