Inspiration

Shuby

You probably know street artist Shuby for the various wheatpastes – often featuring her trademark bananas – she’s been leaving on the walls around London for the past decade or so. She’s got her first solo show opening at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery next week, called This Is The Spot! which takes inspiration from the rudey films shown in the cinema clubs of ’60s Soho.

Have you got first show nerves?
I have a little bit! I like the work that I’ve made and this is the first time I’ve done big silkscreen prints on canvas, so that was really exciting. I did them at Jealous Studio in Crouch End and it was a totally new way of working for me. Usually I get posters and photocopy them and paste them on walls and rip them off and spray paint over them. After talking to the gallery they suggested doing something on canvas and I thought I’d go for it. I always say yes to things thinking they’ll go smoothly and then you can find the creative process is much harder but you’ve learned something new. They turned out really well, I was working alongside a guy called Ben Challen at Jealous and he knew what I was trying to achieve and was happy to work with me! My way is usually to work in a way where I don’t know what will happen and see where it takes me. It was good that he was prepared to do that, we’d make up colours, pour them on and we’d either get a nice surprise or have to throw it away. 

It was Shepard Fairey’s 2006 show at Truman Brewery that sparked your passion for street art, right?
Yeah I went along with an artist friend called Bortusk Leer – you’ve probably seen his monsters that he pastes up around east London. We went along to the exhibition and I made some stamps on stickers for the occasion. He’d made huge, huge pieces that were absolutely amazing and then me and Bortusk decided to go out and do paste ups together – he was doing fluoro pigeons at the time, which turned into his monsters and I was doing images of Josephine Baker and images of a lady holding a big banana, that’s sort of become my signature now. We had a show together at a gallery called Voila on Redchurch – it was a tiny place that isn’t there now. I lived in Elephant and Castle in a tiny little flat at the time so it was nice to be able to take the work outside and leave it there. 

Is putting your work up on the street an itch you need to scratch? 
Yeah – it’s completely away from the stress of everything. I find it really exciting, inspiring and spontaneous and it really is a lot of fun, so I think I’ll always want to do it.

Your banana is sort of your signature – if someone caught you pasting up a banana they couldn’t be too angry. No one can be angry at a banana.
They quite often make people smile! If I’m out doing something and people come up to me I think I’m about to get told but usually they just want to know what I’m up to and I’ve always had a pretty good response. There was one time when I was doing a piece and the police said that it looked good! I think if you’re focusing in an area where there’s lots of other street art then it’s a bit more accepted – I’d never put up a piece on someone’s front door. I make sure it’s somewhere that it wouldn’t cause anybody strife. 

Why Shuby? 
Shuby is from the Peter Tosh song, Ketchy Shuby. When I first started I didn’t have a name and people started asking who was doing the things I was putting up. I tried using my name backwards but it sounded similar to some other artists. So I just went with Shuby from the song!

This Is The Spot! runs from 20th Jan – 18th Feb at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery.

Interview: Josh Jones
Photo: Tom Medwell