Mid week provided a strong sense of deja vû - waiting expectantly at our hub junction, as a member of the street art haut monde headed to the Turnpike, charged with installing some unique pieces of urban expressionism. It's the old adage …"If you don't ask…"
Via a brief email exchange, TAG had provided South-African born Christiaan Nagel sufficient architectural clues to whet his appetite for installation. Resident in the UK since 2007, Nagel, a former Psychology student from Pretoria, has rapidly established a reputation as one of they key players in the urban art scene. Whilst his muse is not quite as quotidian as the Toasters Toaster, his iconic mushroom forms punctuating city skylines are very much a signature statement.
What differs from the Toasters' continual re-interpretation of a readymade form is another more oblique criteria - location. Nagel seems to have engaged in his own personal crusade - challenging himself to find more obscure, and seemingly unattainable locations in which to locate his creations. And the effect is contagious. Sharing a post-installation beer at Jam in Jar, our eye found a number of distant plinths and parapets, ideal platforms for a poster-palette 'shroom. You meet the nicest people on rooftops.
Therein lies the magic of Nagel's open-ended assault on our urban skyline. This the sublime paradox of placing art 'out of view' - given our tendency to look down these days. In 2007, British artist Anthony Gormley began a series of artworks later known as Event Horizon - placing his ubiquitous life-size body casts across the 'roof tops' of London's Southbank, Gormely later suggested this approach should "activate the skyline in order to encourage people to look around. In this process of looking and finding, or looking and seeking, one perhaps re-assess one's own position in the world and becomes aware of one's status of embedment". Here, Nagel brings an extra sense of belonging; as a sprouting fairytale vista challenges the very notion of time and place.
Like his peers, he reaches for similar heights. Or on occasion depths - having once fought the fast-rising Thames tide, in order to prominently locate a piece on a mooring post close to Tower Bridge.
Perhaps the Holy Grail does reside in N15.
To get your own mushroom effect - Nagel has produced a bold, and bespoke Mushroom shirt. Get one while stocks last HERE.