May 2017 Archives

Home Renovations Update

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I moved closer to London for work in late 2015, but everything was left packed in boxes as the house needed major renovations. I was just "existing" actually before we moved - working late and at all hours, living out of boxes, and actually not trying to be at "home" very much. Finally, the builders were able to get started with the project. We lived in the house the whole time, confined to one small bedroom with the Merlin the cat. The ground floor was gutted, and any spare amount of space in the small bedroom and any other spare corner became a storage pile for the unopened boxes. We didn't have heating for one night (the coldest night of the year) and was impossible to sleep; the other nights/days. we had to resort to the electric heaters that the builders lent to us. Earlier this month, the majority of the work finished, but there's a few more snagging and places that the builders need to come back to finish. However, we've been able to start unpacking and attempting to live.

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Unpacking the boxes of my items that I have not seen since early in 2015 was satisfying, but I am still missing a couple of boxes. One of the items that I had the builders make was a set of shelves around the fireplace. (In the photograph below, the shelves were not built yet, but the fireplace, light fittings, mirror, and paint colours was all picked out by me.) On the shelves, I decided to add books mixed in with items that mean something to me and look good together. I love plants, and I have mixed these with books and other items that I have picked up on my travels and that bring me happiness when I look at them.

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I now also have a decent bedroom, and I picked out the paint, flooring and doors. I am really happy with this room. The colours go so well, and behind the door in the photograph is an en-suite that I also designed with grey-brown tiles (which complement the room) with a textured section that forms a feature wall. I will have to get more photographs once the work is complete and tidied.

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I am so happy that the majority of the work is now completed, but the unpacking and getting everything sorted is taking time. This is what I have been busy with recently and what is consuming a lot of my time.

'Gadus Morhua' Fish Street Art

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The last time I visited Broadway Market was at the end of 2015. I really ought to get back there more often as it's a market that I really enjoy visiting in London. However, I decided to walk to Broadway Market during one of my lunch breaks on a weekday. I came across the giant fish on the side of a building on my way back to Hackney Road. The giant fish illustration is located at the junction of Pritchard's Row and Goldsmith Road near Broadway Market. Underneath the giant fish is the Latin name, "Gadus Mordua". I am not entirely sure if the fish is meant to represent Regent's Canal near here, the market, or something entirely different. I could not find out anything about it online, so if you do know what it is meant to represent, do tell me in the comments.

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New Sr. X Octopus on Hackney Road

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Spanish street artist Sr.X has painted a few walls in London this year, including the large Village Underground wall (covered here). While out walking around at lunch, I discovered a new mural on scaffolding along Hackney Road that Sr.X has also completed recently. I'm not sure exactly when the piece was completed, but it could not have been too long ago. It features an octopus on a blue background with the signature geometric lines and bright colours that the artist is known for.

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Previous work that I covered by Sr.X is located here:

Sr.X Paints Village Underground Wall
Sr.X "Buy Shit!" Sign on Village Underground

Several black plaster skulls appeared around east London late last year. Throughout the past few months, some of these had disappeared. The skulls were all black and looked pretty much the same, and I was never able to find a tag to state who was responsible for leaving these. However, last week I noticed that the skulls have started to bloom. The skulls were planters, and various types of plants were planted at the top of the skull. These have started to grow, giving the street art a new dimension.

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I am still unable to find out who is responsible for leaving these black plaster skull planters on London's streets, so if you do know anything about them, let me know in the comments.

Artist Cosmo Sarson does not often paint street art, but I have previously seen his work on London's walls in 2014 (when he completed two works off Brick Lane) and in 2015 during Bristol's street art festival Upfest. The artist is well-known for his "breakdancing Jesus" figures. His work reminds me of Renaissance paintings, which he seems to be inspired by. The latest piece graces the Pedley Street wall, in the prime position right off Brick Lane. It features a man breakdancing over the artist's first name (that he paints by) "Cosmo".

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Previous work by Cosmo Sarson that I have previously covered in this blog includes:

Bristol Upfest 2015
Street Art: Cosmo Sarson

London-based (and French-raised) street artist Zabou has been busy painting London's walls this year. The latest that I covered was a portrait of Salvador Dali on Commercial Road, and she'd previously collaborated with fellow street artist Koeone on Hackney Road. After a break from a bust painting schedule in London earlier this year, a new piece has been painted on a wall just off of Broadway Market. This wall has previously been the location of some of her previous works, and I was happy to see it refreshed with a new piece.

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The new street art features a portrait of a woman called "Frida", according to the artist's Twitter account. She is painted in a vintage style, holding several paint brushes and tubes of paint and wearing a floral headband. Colourful rays of light appear behind her. In addition, Zabou left the raindrops in the background from the previous piece that used to occupy the wall here.

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Previous works from Zabou that I covered can be viewed by following links in my blog:

Zabour Paints Salvador Dali on Commercial Road
Koeone and Zabou Collaborate
"Keep Out!" Street Art by Zabou
Zabou's 'Cabinet of Curiosity' Street Art
Leake Street Tunnels Street Art, Spring 2016
Recent Street Art by Zabou
Street Art: Zabou

Reigate Castle and Barons's Cave

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Last weekend, I went to Reigate to visit the caves. The caves are only open for a few days a year over the summer months, and last weekend was the first day of the year that they were open. You can read my post here: A Visit to Reigate Caves. Reigate is built on sandstone, and it has three caves to visit. Tunnel Caves is in two parts, and it is a former sand mine. Part of the tunnels can be accessed by guided tour only, and another section is kitted out as a museum and was used as air raid shelters. The other cave (Barons's Cave) is the oldest, and it was built at the same time as the castle.

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I went to Tunnel Caves before heading to Barons's Caves via the castle. Tunnels for both caves go underneath the castle. The castle was built in the late 1000s and was captured by the French in the early 1200s and was used in teh Civil War, where it was destroyed.

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Today, all that remains of the castle is the earth mound where it was built and Barons's Caves, which are under the mound where the castle stood. The former entrance to the caves was in the castle grounds, and this is marked by a stone pyramid structure (seen through the doorway in the image below). All of the castle's stones were taken and used for other building. 

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Today, a castle gatehouse was constructed in 1777 as a tribute to the castle that used to occupy the grounds and in memory of those who built it. 

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The castle grounds are now public gardens. In one place, the caves have collapsed and the ground is lowered.

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Footpaths can be used to walk up and around the castle and down to the modern day's entrance to the caves.

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Barons' Cave got its name from the barons who drew up the Magna Carta; it was rumoured to have been drawn up in the caves, but that probably is not true. Tours of this cave are guided only. Unfortunately, the queue was very long, and we were rushed through. Apparently it was the busiest day that the guides have ever seen, and a lot of people had apparently seen the open day on Facebook. This meant that we were rushed through and did not get long in the caves and had to share it with several other groups of about thirty people each.

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The below picture is the best I got to take of the original carved archway tunnels. The other areas have been damaged by people who stole the sand to sell on.

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One of the tunnels is larger and probably used as storage for the castle. At the end of the tunnel is the oldest grafitti, which dates to the 1600s. We were also shown the echo made if throwing a large stone at a sand-filled hole on the floor at the end of the passage.

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The other interesting feature in the caves are carved animals, such as horses and carved faces/heads.

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Have you ever visited Reigate Caves or the castle? The next tour is on June 10, and there are ones every month through to September. The cost to see all the caves is 4.50 per adult, and all caves can be visited easily in a day. Several town centre car parks can be used in order to access the caves. Arrive early in order to get the most of the caves. It is probably wise to do the Tunnel Cave tour first and then walk across to the tour of Barons' Caves before walking the museum tunnels at your own pace. (We wished we had more of an opportunity to see the older Barons' Caves.) For more information, see http://www.reigatecaves.com/index.php

C215 Paints New Street Art in London

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French street artist C215 (whose real name is Christian Guemy), paints portraits of people and cats using stencils. The artist has previously painted in London, but the last time was in the summer of 2014 when a larger-scale piece was painted on Osborne Street south of Brick Lane. Additional pieces were painted in the winter of 2013, and several pieces were painted before this. Although some of the subjects of the artist's work are famous, others are simple and average people and the homeless. C215 has been painting since 2005 and his style is stencil-based. A lot of times, I see the same work from him but in different places, all over the globe. 

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C215 is currently in London showing his work at Stolenspace Gallery, which is located on Osborne Street at the bottom of Brick Lane. His work (in the "Spitting Blood" exhibit) is on show until the 28th of May. Some of his artwork on display includes British celebrities, such as David Bowie and Amy Winehouse (pictured above). Amy's portrait appears on a red box near the gallery.

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This man is located on 153 Brick Lane.

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This older man is located on Osborne Street a few doors down from the gallery.

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This man in uniform is around the corner from Allan Park off Brick Lane.

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My favourite work of C215 is his cat stencils. I was happy to see a new cat stencil appear on Sclater Street. The stencil was painted in London previously on a similar door.

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This man has a tatoo of Yoda from "Star Wars" on the back of his hand, and he is located in the middle of Brick Lane near the Truman Brewery.

Previous blog posts with C215's work in my blog are located here:

New Street Art by C215 and Paul 'Don' Smith
Street Art: C215
C215 Uncovered on Blackall Street

Airborne Mark is a London-based street artist who has recently been experimenting with origami style street art. Airborne Mark started painting street art in his home country of Poland before coming to the UK in 2005. His latest work is a range called "Origami Riots", and new murals based on this range are added to London's streets. The last one that I caught in Star Yard was "Paper Sprite", and the new piece, titled "Afrikan Mask" appeared at the weekend. 

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For those interested in seeing more form the artist, I previously covered some of Airborne Mark's work, in with a round-up of other artwork in early 2014 here, a round-up in 2015 here and here, in early 2016. In addition, see the below:

Airborne Mark Paints "Paper Sprite" - Origami Riots

The artist's official website is here: http://airbornemark.com 

A Visit to Reigate Caves

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One of the items in my calendar for last Saturday was to visit Reigate's caves. The caves are only open a few days each year, and this past Saturday was the first day that they were open for the year. Other dates are in June, July, August, and September. There are three caves to visit. The oldest is Baron's Cave, which was a part of the castle, and which I will be covering in another post. The other is Tunnel Road Caves, and this can be visited in two parts. One part is a visit by guided tour only, and the other part is a museum with uses for the cave and World War II information as the caves were used as shelters. (Read my post about Reigate Castle and Barons' Cave.)

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I arrived early to buy tickets, and I was happy that I did as I was on the first tour of the Tunnel Caves, and when we finished the tour, we saw a very long queue for the tickets. The museum tunnels were a bit busy too, and we had to wait in the queue for Baron's Caves and had a very large and rushed tour, which made it impossible to get any photographs.

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Reigate is built on sandstone, and the sand here is very good quality and fine. Sandstone mines opened up under the town, and the sand was sold to make clear glass bottles (amongst its other uses, such as covering the floor in pubs to clean them). Miners dug the tunnels to escavate as much sand as possible without the caves caving in. 

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To do this, they created large stone pillars, which are angled and arched (with arched ceilings) to take the load. The shapes and size of the pillars can be seen in my photographs.

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The caves stopped being mined when a bit of one tunnel caved in in the castle grounds. As a result, some of the tunnels were filled, and some of them were bricked up. Some access was provided in some areas to fix issues in the caves. Others were bricked up and filled in because of their proximity to a bank's vault. The caves used to have a bar in them, and they were used in World War II as air raid shelters. Concerts have also performed in the caves. They were also used for a cycle club meet-up point as a shop sold bicycles on Tunnel Road outside. The same group then formed the rifle club, which still uses the tunnels today and which has set up targets to shoot at.

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The caves were also used for dumping trash. Several barrels were thrown down into the cave, and only the metal rims survive. Most of the glass bottles were completely smashed, but a couple of intact ones and pots were found. Also, a meat refridgerator was found.

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During the years, people have made carvings on the soft sandstone walls. Others have stolen sand.  

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The caves ceased mining in 1862, and this was carved into the end of one of the tunnels.

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After the guided tour, we walked across the road to the Tunnel Caves Experience (also known as the East Side Caves). These tunnels of the caves were used as the shelters and for storage vaults for shops, and the most notable was used to store alcohol. Information about the stone mined in the caves can also be seen in one room, and there is a Roman tile kiln on display as well.

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One of the rooms holds a Morrison Table and is kitted out to look like the war years. The Morrison Table was used to shelter under. In case your home was hit by an indirect bomb and the building structure collapsed, you could be safe if you hid underneath the table.

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In the next room, we could sit inside an Anderson Shelter, which could survive an indirect hit from a bomb. These shelters were put up by average citizens for a place to hid during the air raids. Over 3.6 million of them were made, and most of them were given back to the council, although some were kept to be used as garden sheds.

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Another room showed the facilities, and both the women's and men's restrooms were available to see as they would have appeared back in the war.

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I will be covering the older cave, Baron's Cave, and the castle in another post. Have you ever visited Reigate caves?

Dreph "You Are Enough" (6th Edition)

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Street artist Dreph, famous for painting portraits of predominantly African/Caribbean people, has returned to the streets in order to paint a new series of inspiring and understated people. The new series is called "You Are Enough", and several new pieces have popped up in Croydon, north London, and east London. The sixth piece in the edition is Myvanwy Evans, a friend of the artist. She grew up in Shoreditch in the 1980s and runs cultural marketing agency who help communities and young people.

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 More work by Dreph can be seen on my blog in the following posts:

Dreph Paints Holly Oluwo
New Street Art Portraits by Dreph
Street Art: Dreph

Street Art: ThisOne

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Over the past couple of years, street artist ThisOne has busy painting on London's streets. I've photographed many of his work across London but have not covered it on my blog until now. I first saw his work a couple of years ago when he created a wide range of black and white art over the winter. The artist's style is creating simplistic black and white illustrations, usually of animals, on walls.

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Have you seen any work by ThisOne?

Last spring, street artist Louis Masai headed up Endangered13, an environmental street art painting jam that took place (largely over a weekend) on Ackroyd Drive near Tower Hamlets Cemetery park near Mile End tube station. I visited the event on both days (HumanNature Endangered13 Street Art Paint Jam, Day 2 and HumanNature Endangered13 Street Art Paint Jam) in order to see the progress, although a few of the murals were not yet complete when I visited on the second day. After seeing additional posts on Twitter from Bablu Miah about new environmental street art taking place last summer and this spring, I decided to have a wander back to Mile End to see the new work. 

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Samer

I visited in April, near the anniversary of the Endangered13 paint jam a year ago. I discovered several new pieces painted in the archways and was able to see the other pieces finished. I was reminded of the good memories that I had a year ago when I watched the painting unfold, and it was one of my most memorable events last spring. (Some of the artists at last year's event included Louis Masai, ATM, Andy Council, Jonesy, Vibes, Jim Vision, Xeno, Carrie Reichardt, Faunagraphic, and Fiyas.) 

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Jonesy (2016)

Bablu Miah led the new phase of painting and enlisted a new team of artists and sponsors, which included Forest Recycling and Global Arts Supplies (who donated the paint). I've photographed the new and original art. 

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RHC/Kelly/Bablu (various)

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Roaming Elephant

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Aspire (2016)

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Zadok/Bateleur (2016)

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Louis Masai and Morganic (2016)

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Colorati & Eugene Booms

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Carrie Reichardt (2016)

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Louis Masai (2016)

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Faunagraphic (2016)

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Unknown

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Jim Vision (2016)

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Masai 

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Fiya One (2016)

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Panther by Boy (2016)

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Unknown

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ATM (2016)

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Tanya Dee & Leadfoot; Xenz

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Andy Council (2016)

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Vibes (2016)

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Masai


The last few pieces were discovered at the Mile End tube station end of Cemetery Park.

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Annatomix

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Lilly

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Roo

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Roo

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Roo

I suggest giving Ackroyd Drive a visit if you have not been to see the street art already as there are some really great pieces here.

Ceramic Street Art Masks and Skulls

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Today's post features ceramic masks, skulls, and smiles that I have discovered in east London over the past few months. Some of these do not include the artist's name, so if you know who the artist is, please tell me in the comments. The other artist is known as akaLadyMuck. (You can see more of her work on her Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/akaladymuck/)

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The two pieces by akaLadyMuck were difficult to spot as they are so small. I found two of the smiles. 

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Let me know if you spot any additional pieces.

Today is May the 4th, and that means that it is "Star Wars" Day. Today, I have a themed post to share with street art that I discovered at the end of last year. The artwork is by street artist CRISP, an artist that I have previously covered on my blog. CRISP was born in Australia, but he currently lives in Columbia. A few years ago, he pasted up several plaster masks around east London. I usually see stencil work and paste-ups from him. Tribal masks and stencils with a social or political message (usually against advertising) are common themes.

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The artwork pictured appeared on Hackney Road and features the Death Star made out of big brand logos, which are easily recognisable. The branded Death Star is being attacked by a number of X-wing fighters and the Millennium Falcon.

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Happy "Star Wars" Day!

Dreph Paints Holly Oluwo

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One of the busiest street artists producing regular new work around east London is Dreph (Neequaye Dreph). Dreph is London-based and paints portraits of real unsung people of African/Caribbean origin. The artist has been refreshing his wall on Commercial Street in the past few months. Earlier last month, he refreshed the wall again with a portrait of Holly Oluwo.

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He met Holly while he was painting in on Shoreditch High Street a few months ago, and she works at a care home and is a survivor of domestic abuse. He was inspired to paint her portrait because she is a surviver and keeps real and positive.

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Other posts about Dreph and previous work in my blog are located below:

New Street Art Portraits by Dreph
Street Art: Dreph

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