A decade ago, Steve Lazarides established a gallery in the lively environment of Soho, rather than traditional Mayfair, following on with a further gallery in an old Georgian gin palace and shop in Rathbone Place, north of New Oxford Street. Such has been his influence that street art is now collected by serious collectors, with many artists remaining affordable, and he has announced financial backing to move to a new gallery space in Mayfair. No doubt there will be howls of indignation that you can’t display street art in a posh place like Mayfair, but if Bonham’s and Phillips already do it at their contemporary art auctions, then it is inevitable that the world moves on. Let’s hope that the old Rathbone Place gallery with its historic, gritty spaces and the painted staircase is adopted by someone who loves its quirky architecture and follows behind in Steve’s footsteps. It would be a tragedy if it was lost to yet another coffee or trendy designer shop, which seems all too likely given the massive redevelopment taking place across the road which will change the character of the area.
As if, both to celebrate his gallery’s 10 years in London and to mark the next stage in it’s development, “Still Here – A Decade of Lazarides” shows the work of over 30 artists who have contributed to the gallery’s success including Banksy, Sickboy, Invader, Vhils, Zevs, Scott Campbell, Antony Micallef, Faile, the Miaz Brothers and many more whose work can also be seen on the walls of cities and communities across the world. For the first time (that I can remember) the exhibition covers three floors of the gallery, taking the visitor up the worn staircase treads and street-art-painted walls to the attic floors at the top of the building.
As an exhibition of street art over the last decade, this is definitely worth seeing, with such variety of work from across the world of artists who seek to break the rules, challenge convention and make political and societal statements.