Guerilla artist Olek puts up Brick Lane street art under cover of darkness
Polish artist Olek took to the streets of Spitalfields and Shoreditch last week to display her weird and wacky crochet creations.
The artist went out in the dead of night wearing a crocheted mask to put up her handmade street sculptures, which included miniature buggies and bicycles.
Her late night antics were part of her current exhibition I Do Not Expect to be a Mother But I Do Expect to Die Alone at Tony’s Gallery, Sclater Street in which she has covered the entire space - the walls, floor and all the objects in it - in her trademark multicoloured crochet.
“I put my art up at night because it’s so quiet,” Olek said. “During the day there are too many people around, too much energy. It makes it difficult to connect with the streets around you.”
The New York based artist has been making street art since 2002. Her previous works include a crocheted London taxi, tent and life size human sculptures.
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“I don’t know why I decided to take my art to the streets. It just felt natural to me. My instinct is always telling me to go outside.
“But I don’t divide my work between the gallery and the street. For me it’s all connected – that’s what makes it strong.
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“Most of the objects in my current exhibition come from the streets. Every Sunday after the flea market on Brick Lane, I would go out and collect abandoned pieces and take them back to crochet.
“I got the bed from there, as well as the shopping trolley, mirror, chairs and table. I must have looked like such a bin lady!”
Olek, 33, names Spitalfields-based Tracey Emin as one of her greatest influences. The exhibition’s title is a direct quote from a blanket made by the artist in 2002.
“There’s still far too much sexism in the art world today, but Emin helped to open the door to female artists like me.
“I chose that name for my exhibition because I want to challenge stereotypes the way she did – I’m a woman, but I’m a serious artist too. I don’t just want to be identified by my gender.”
I Do Not Expect to be a Mother But I Do Expect to Die Alone will run at Tony’s Gallery, 68 Sclater Street until March 23.