When Dead Celebrities Come Back As Street Art

By M@ Last edited 67 months ago
When Dead Celebrities Come Back As Street Art

As noted (and explained) all over the internet, 2016 was a terrible year for the deaths of well-loved celebrities. These lost icons are increasingly remembered with impromptu shrines and murals, which sometimes spring up within hours of the sad news.

The trend for memorial street art might be traced to the death of Amy Winehouse in 2011. Of course, celebrities had featured in street art before, but the number of murals for Amy was unprecedented. Here's a particularly vivid piece by portraitist Akse, from the Brick Lane area.

Image courtesy of Global Street Art.

Memorials to Amy were particularly replete around Camden Town, where she lived, played and died. Three years after her death, this somewhat baffling tableaux was placed on the banks of the Regent's Canal, by artist Icarus.

Image by Simon Crubellier in the Londonist Flickr pool.

The image at the top of the page appeared recently on Hackney Road. It shows Amy Winehouse holding Cosmo, the nephew she never knew. The work is by Paul 'Don' Smith, whose speciality is decorating the walls of London with the faces of the famous. Further examples of his craft, showing the recently and not-so-recently departed, are shown below: Lemmy (Soho), Spock/Leonard Nimoy (Shoreditch), Bob Hoskins (Shoreditch), John Lennon/Bob Marley/Jim Morrison/Elvis Presley (Richmond), David Bowie (Soho).

The death of David Bowie at the start of the year set off a wave of street art not seen since the world lost Amy Winehouse. The most prominent, by Jimmy C, appeared in Brixton, the singer's childhood home. It soon became a shrine, attracting floral tributes and personal messages.

Image by Cath Dupuy in the Londonist Flickr pool.

Many other Bowie tributes can be found around town, with new ones appearing all the time. Alan Rickman, as far as we know, has yet to be commemorated in street art. Like Bowie, he too became the subject of a floral shrine — this time outside the Harry Potter shop at King's Cross station.

One rather special piece of lost street art could until recently be found on the side of the old Shoreditch station, off Brick Lane. Much cherished Discworld author Terry Pratchett was memorialised in this epic piece by Jimmy Vision. It has since been replaced by a Star Wars mural by the same artist.

Finally, the recent death of Prince has sparked a new wave of memorial art. The framed panel below, augmented with flowers, can be found in Turnpike Lane.

Image by Stockcar Pete in the Londonist Flickr pool.

The year ended with the death of George Michael on Christmas Day. This tribute on Great Eastern Street was created by street artist Pegasus.

All images by M@ unless otherwise labelled.

Last Updated 18 January 2017