“Shoreditch has a good vibe for art,” says artist Oliver Needs. “I participated in an exhibition in this area called nothing summer exhibition for people who couldn’t get into another one, less well known and that was in this area. Shoreditch is good for the Fringe art scene.”
His art, focusing on stylistic movement and using colour contrast and drip techniques is currently showing at Daniel Raphael, near Regent’s Park until 31 March.
Needs loves London, comparing its prestige as an art capital to New York or Berlin, but worries about prices. “This area was known for its artists more than other areas and I think a few of them have been priced out. It’s still very arty though.”
Although Needs himself cannot afford studio rent, with the majority of his work produced in his kitchen, the artist believes that “artists can always adapt and find new areas.”
“I guess that’s a way to always be, find new areas and this will motivate other businesses to follow it too, such as coffee shops and clothing stores because they notice the art.”
“The history of Shoreditch is great, there’s been so many changes here. It used to be dominated by high manual labour jobs but now it’s a lot of city people coming to live here and new blocks of flats being built.”
But Needs believes the local authorities should “do more to ensure that lesser known artists can participate,” suggesting that empty walls could become places “where artists can go on a rolling basis and do graffiti. This may encourage them to do that instead of places where the council don’t want it to be.
“I often see the council workers cleaning it off, I guess they allow it in some places but not others. You need spaces where artists who are not well known can participate, you need to give everyone a chance. The arts council could get involved in projects like that.
“A lot of people that are spraying graffiti might not have a very good education, they might not be able to fill in a form to give to the council to ask for funding, it’s not the easiest process.”
Additional reporting by Christiana Bishop and Bridie Pearson-Jones