Time and again I’ve referred to Lutfur as Our Dear Leader as his is plastered over dustbin lorries and lampposts, but now he seems to have excelled in his totalitarian desires.
For we are now in the Olympic golden age of Lutfur the Barbarian.
Until a few days ago, the side of 49 Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane, looked like this:
Here’s an extract from a post there in August 2010:
It was last Autumn that Roa’s squirrel and rat first caught my eye, and then earlier this year I discovered a whole host of vermin that the prolific Belgian street artist had painted in Spitalfields. Now, as you can see from this tall bird that appeared at the junction of Hanbury St and Brick lane last week, Roa is back again, and he has taken the opportunity to further populate our neighbourhood with his distinctive, finely drawn creatures.
I was walking down Hanbury St when I looked up, unexpectedly, to see Roa hard at work painting on the top of a motorised cherry picker, high above my head. He was adding the black hatching onto the white base coat and I craned my neck, watching as he used strokes of the spray can to make each of the individual marks that characterise his highly recognisable style. From the cradle of the cherry picker, at arm’s reach from the wall, Roa could only see directly in front of him, so in his left hand he clutched a sketch that allowed him to see the entire figure, while he wielded the spray can in his right.
Charlie Uzzell Edwards, curator of the Pure Evil Gallery, said that Roa’s intention had been to paint a heron but, after being asked if it was a crane by Bengali people – for whom the crane is a sacred bird – Roa morphed his bird into a crane to best complement its location on the wall of an Indian restaurant. Charlie also told me that Roa always asks before painting his creatures onto walls and has discovered that many owners are receptive to having large paintings enhancing their buildings, which can become landmarks as a result. The truth is that since these paintings take four to eight hours to complete, it is not an option to create them as a hit and run operation, especially if you want them to last.
Roa’s fine draftsmanship sets him above other street artists and I particularly admire the vivid sense of life that he imparts to his creatures, which transfix you with their wide eyes.
Since it appeared the crane has become a tourist attraction (surely Lutfur must know this because he says he lives in that area), but take a walk down Brick Lane today and instead of the crane, you will see this:
Yes, that almost imperial banner contains a photo of the Great Man. It is a picture of him advertising that simply stunning deal he negotiated with Seb Coe last year when he agreed to give up the Olympic marathon route going through our dirty little borough in return for…..Brick Lane being named Curry Capital 2012!
Surely this kind of vandalism needs planning permission? Yes! It’s here. And look whose name it is under: see the application here. Yes, my mate Takki Sulaiman (to be fair, he is only following orders you know), the council’s head of communications. Take an even closer look at that application form at Question 5: “Have you consulted your neighbours or the local community about the proposal?” His answer: No.
Then take a look at Question 10: Does the applicant own the building/has the applicant sought permission from the owner?….Er, “No”. This is what Takki says instead: “Initial contact was with Jeet Balti House (closed) and estate agents (their board is up but no instruction), failed to identify the owner. A Land Registry search will now be done to identify and contact the owner to obtain. If no permission granted, display will not be installed.”
The date of the application was May 16. There was a question posed by a Tory councillor on the papers for Wednesday’s infamous council meeting asking why land searches were taking so long in the borough. So unless the council has promoted its land search to the top of the pile, we can safely assume permission has not been granted.
Yet it is up there. Over the sacred Bengali bird, the crane.
I suspect the gods of culture will be willing someone to tear it down.
There’s a petition here. It already has more than 300 signatures.
(Hat tip to Shafiur Rahman via Twitter and a reader of this blog.)