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The Lurkers: elusive street art duo turn their attention to photography

Nameless artists aim to create a new way of considering the urban environment

05 December, 2016 — By Dan Carrier

Images of the captial from Lurking in London

THEY have scaled heights and explored underground.

The entire city is their canvas – they are a duet of celebrated street artists whose current incarnation comes under the moniker The Lurkers.

The Lurkers have long experience of finding nooks and crannies – they clamber through the veins and arteries that are the infrastructure of our urban environment.

The pair, who shall remain nameless due to the fact they have a healthy disregard for signs that say No Entry or Keep Out, are based in Kentish Town. They have their backgrounds in street art, much of which you will have seen throughout London down the years. Recently, under The Lurkers moniker, they have produced large-scale art works in Camden and Kentish Town in support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with the motif “The people for JC,” showing clearly where their political allegiances lie.

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Now they have turned their attention from paint to photography, and in a new book entitled Lurking in London they create a way of considering the urban environment that for so long has been their canvas.

The Lurkers was a project that started in 2012 as a “platform” for art, a project that “would both entertain the people creating it and inspire those who follow it,” they say.

“To lurk is to observe and through observation often comes insight. Via a wide range of creative practices we aim to channel this insight into a unique blend of content that reflects our lifestyles and shows you the world from our perspective.”

As they take us along for a ride as they explore London, they say in an introduction to the book that it is “a complete guide to London’s hidden corners and often unacknowledged charm”, adding that it acts as a document of the city we live in.

The introduction says: “Our aim was to highlight the ever-changing and multidimensional nature of London, which is something we’ve looked to achieve by using the city as not only a playground to explore and document but as a backdrop for our varied creative pursuits.”

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And the book features plenty of images that those in Camden will recognise, alongside places you’ll not be able to place, but sense they are crucial elements in how our city feels today. We are shown the Sun Wah Fish Bar, an excellent traditional fish and chip shop in Highgate Road, that has been closed for at least 20 years. Its slowly rotting façade lies as it was when it fried its last piece of fish – inside, its stainless steel fryers lie waiting for fresh oil to be poured in and the heating elements started up.

Further along the road, Adsal Reprographic, a photocopy shop frozen in time, is featured. Elsewhere, a juxtaposition is offered between the decay of post-war social housing blocks with their Modernist functionality, to the well-maintained, nicely painted Victorian terraces in places such as the multicoloured terraces of Kelly Street.

Lawn Road, High Point, Cholmeley Lodge, Northwood Hall all feature – striking examples of celebrated 20th-century buildings – and then grotty shop fronts that speak as much about our urban environment as the most celebrated of designs. Above all, the book presents a way of considering what is around us: of colours and textures, of sign writing and design, of functionalism versus decoration, waste and decay versus civic pride.

It also reveals the modus operandi of a group of exceptional street artists, whose anonymity isn’t a calling card like others, but more a gateway for the viewer to consider the art with­out personality muddying your perception of what you are looking at.

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