A half-peeled banana awash in pop colours with the subtext: ‘Your Banana Needs You’ is what first beckoned us into the world of Shuby at a patisserie in London’s Soho, but it was on the street that the artist’s now infamous bananas and rabbits first caught the eye of the art world ten years ago. The instantly recogniseable graphics have become a reoccurring and humorous addition to London’s street-art scene, and they’ve also made it further afield with sightings in densely populated cities including New York, Paris and Sydney, and across abandoned, apocalyptic-feel urban canvasses including Doel in Belgium and the Teufelsberg spy station in Berlin.
Inspiration from Josephine Baker, Martin Sharp and Busby Berkeley’s Lady In The Tutti Frutti Hat is what first got Shuby’s wheels turning in 2006 and we’re delighted to speak with the artist ahead of her first solo show at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery in January. This Is The Spot takes us on a retro ride of the seedy side of Soho. The collection of silk screens and painted canvases pays homage to post-1960’s Soho and classic British, low-budget sexploitation films with cameo appearances from the gamut of Shuby’s trademark characters.
Ahead of the show, and our next print issue – The Art Issue – Shuby has granted us a sneak peek into her world.
Can you tell us about your upcoming exhibition?
This Is The Spot is inspired by retro movie posters, small ads and tart cards from Soho. It explores paper memorabilia from the porn industry from the early 1960’s nudist films like Take Your Clothes Off And Live! to the unique era in UK cinema with sex comedies like Can You Keep It Up For A Week?
And this is your first solo show? Where else have you shown?
Yes this is my debut solo show at Lawrence Alkin Gallery in Soho. I've shown in all kinds of spaces from warehouses, art fairs and galleries to my favourite cake shop in Greek Street, Maison Berteaux.
You first caught our eye with your bananas. What inspired them?
The film The Gang's All Here with Carmen Miranda in her tutti frutti hat, Josephine Baker in a banana skirt and the illustrator Martin Sharp's pink bananas were all inspirations; not to forget Andy Warhol's pop art banana.
And your mischievous rabbit. Where did he come from?
My rabbit came from a biscuit jar that I repainted with a Zorro mask. He looked instantly naughty so I began to draw him on other things.
How did you first get into making street art, and how did you transition to gallery showings? Which do you prefer?
I started doing street art in the form of paste-ups in 2006 with a friend. It was a lot of fun and I began to get a following. There are many urban art galleries in London so transitioning my posters to work inside as well was natural. Street art is more spontaneous and fun but it’s also great to have people wanting my work in their homes too.
Thanks, Shuby. We can’t wait to see This is The Spot.
This Is The Spot runs from 20 January – 11 February 2017 at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery with a private view on 19 January. The gallery is located at 42 New Compton Street, London WC2H 8DA. For any enquiries, about the show contact [email protected].
Words by Courtney Blackman