as it happens...

Saturday, 16 March 2013


So today it’s raining and it’s raining a lot, I’m not amused, seriously this is so not in my schedule. Fortunately I managed to finish the painting I started yesterday and therefore at least I’m not on a half ass tip.

I’m sure the vast majority of people are thinking ‘giraffes, endangered, surely not?’
and if we investigated all the giraffes on a one species level then you would be correct. However giraffes have a complex species division, using molecular techniques it has been discovered that giraffes can be classified into six groups that are reproductively isolated and are not interbreeding in the wild. A biological species is defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring.

Since sub-species have been discovered it also means that some of these species are now realised as being endangered. One of which is the Rothschild giraffe…
Current estimates of population size are well below 2,500 mature individuals, numbers are declining overall and no sub-population is estimated to contain more than 250 mature individuals. The population is potentially close to meeting the population threshold for Critically Endangered.

Rothschild has been pushed out of its natural range by agricultural development, hunting, human encroachment and loss of their natural habitat. Numbers declined so drastically that they became extinct in Sudan and only a few hundred individuals remained in the 1960’s. A conservation drive in the 1960’s and 70’s led by the late Betty Leslie-Melville resulted in Kenya-wide translocations and the establishment of new populations. This early conservation initiative proved successful and formed the basis of the Rothschild's herds that exist today.

I really enjoyed this wall and so it would seem the locals did also, as I have been asked to do about another four walls. Which shall I do first? Well none today due to this splendid rain we’ve got…best go check out some touristy things I guess…

Thursday, 7 March 2013

CAPETOWN, SLEEPYTOWN; lets paint this town.

It has suddenly dawned upon me that I have two weeks left, well less, in fact if I’m going to utilise my collective airmiles I had better get my tins and caps shakin’, rattlin’ and rollin’.

I have always been a huge fan of Faith 47’s work and Dal East has, in recent times, been hugely inspirational for me. These guys have recently been popping in and out of just about everywhere globally and so finding them in Capetown at the same time as me was a blessing. Further more to then find myself sat in their studio drinking some very potent but delicious green tea, reasoning about art projects and my plans in South Africa, seemed somewhat mad. They are seriously humble people and so generous with their time, offering to take me up to a dance-hall on the weekend and even help acquire permission for the walls I’m trying to find.

After an hour or so of conversation I was feeling super amped, must have been the green tea, I set foot into Woodstock to look for some walls. Freddy Sam took me through some of the areas that he and fellow artists have painted and helped me establish which walls would be good to try and paint. I returned home with about 5 or 6 possible walls for the week ahead, a good day.. and good days need good evenings so what better than a short movies screening.

I woke with the sun shinning, a rarity in Africa of course, very excited to get out and start painting a wall. The planned destination was a blue alcove in front of sombody’s home, with a nice bit of architecture on top. However the owner, despite prior consent, had changed his mind and asked for no animals, stating it was against his Muslim faith; flowers would be fine but not animals, oh well… onwards. There were so many other walls but now I needed to find one the right shape for the piece I’d prepped.  Half an hour later, a door knock and I was painting my blue crane before the clock had even striked 10am.

The blue crane is South Africa’s national bird, a 3ft tall beautiful blue bird which enjoys dry grassy uplands. However for the past 32 years these guys have been declining in numbers. They are most common in areas where disturbance by humans and their cattle is relatively low but unfortunately that is exactly why their numbers have decreased, as the human population swells and farmland takes over the cranes are forced out.  The conversion of grasslands into commercial tree plantations and both accidental and deliberate poisoning are largely to blame. Within the last two decades, they have rapidly disappeared from the Eastern Cape, Lesotho, and Swaziland, the population in the northern Free State, Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West Province has declined by up to 90%.

I was blessed with this location by a very supportive garage and its mecanics who seemed to like my crane and were saddened to learn about their current vulnerable position. I have to say these guys had me fooled several times during the course of the day as I could have sworn they were arguing, but no just discussing and laughing… T.I.A

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


I’m 30 years young, but some 23 years ago I was adorning my bedroom walls with hundreds of photos, posters and clippings of the world’s animals. My favourites were the big cats and I made a promise to myself that one day, I would find some of these beasts in their natural environment. The only thing I’m amazed at is how it took me so many years to get to African pastures red…

Africa Africa Africa…where do I start with how I feel that your within my every breath, and in my thoughts on a daily basis. I am starting to feel that the phrase African time is settling in. I’m back on Louis time…it’s similar to Cornish time and Jamaican time but it has its own style. I had planned only a few days in Jozi and wanted to do it London style…hahaha yeah what was I thinking, my time in Jozi extended to over a week in the end and there was absolutely no way I was leaving without going on safari. I was panicking a bit as I couldn’t afford the tour prices and most certainly wasn’t about to settle for a lion park, no way, I needed the raw deal, the real McCoy. It’s amazing when things come together; my Dad’s cousin lives in Jozi and we hadn’t managed to link up yet, so it was decided She would take me on safari.

We left early but were apparently not in any specific rush, through my excitement I took deep breaths and allowed myself to be in Liz and Lance’s capable hands. ‘Do they realise how excited I am? 23 years of expectations excited….deep breath Mr Masai... the animals aren’t gonna go anywhere they will wait pon your arrival…deep breaths Mr Masai…’

Life can be beautiful in the way it presents moments of time in the appropriate manner. That morning I got to know a different part of the Michel family and it’s became apparent that I’m the last of the blood line, discovering that fact on a trip that explores the endangered species of the African continent humbles me, as I also hold an endangered last seed.

Anyway back to the animals yo, Liz in the back, Lance on the wheel and me sat staring eagle-eyed out the window.

 ”Woah, woah. Back up Lance” and there sat a beautiful giraffe, framed perfectly by foliage, legs folded under, a rare sight, as they spend most of their time standing up. And I’d wanted to arrive two hours ago…huh and have missed this…not a chance…blessed to arrive as we mean to go on. After 4 hours or so of driving around the park we had seen giraffes, zebras, hippos, elephants, lots of birds, ostriches, warthogs, impala, rhinos, and wilder-beast amongst others, but no lions and time was running out. We had one hour until the gate closed and we wouldn’t be allowed out of the park. Secretly I think each of us didn’t mind the idea of a lock-in, an almost heated debate of the route for our last hour ended with what resulted in being the right route. We pulled up alongside a 4x4, I think we were in fact the only vehicle to not be, ours was a Kia…jokes…anyway a rather tipsy burnt South African rugger bugger peered out.

“You seen any lions from your direction?”
”Nope, have you?”.
“Nope, which means they that way.”
“Cool, well shall we investigate then.”
“After you”
”Lovely lovely”

If I could measure my excitement on a Richter Scale then you may have felt tsunami waves on UK shores, no joke. A few yards up the road and we started seeing passengers in other vehicles peering out through binoculars and camera lenses that I swear you could have made property down-payments with.

“So I’m presuming there must be something out there don’t you think Lance?”
“Shall we pull up?”
“That’s a splendid idea hombres, binoculars please”

I sat up on the window legs dangling into the car, a rainbow had formed above us, in fact I lie there were two, it was heavy drop rain, the kind that if your walking you actually dodge the drops, the sun was still beaming, dark dark clouds meeting blue skies, creating a memorable purple light; Liz commented on this being a monkey’s sky.

“Okay guys, so there is a rhino charging some lionesses into the bush…I cant see them anymore but, by Jah Jahs there is the king”…(salute)…

From that moment on I sat in awe watching the lioness return from her chase to lovingly rub face with her king and walk on as he waited patiently, assessing the rhino situation, some 15 minutes passed and the lion moved onwards until I couldn’t see him anymore, I didn’t know where the lioness had gone and time was chomping away…

“Woaaaah Louis, the lioness are right next to the car!”

Shit Lance wasn’t lying, two lioness walked past and we awaited the king to tread the same path. Another 10 minutes passed and we reluctantly had to hit the dirt road to the exit, but even that wasn’t uneventful, we saw lots more animals including a jackal which is a rare sight.

Our trip was timed to perfection, thanks for African time, thanks for the best safari ever and bless for getting to know a new family member.

I can happily return to Capetown now…

Friday, 1 March 2013


I’ve been extremely blessed to be staying at a friend of mines fantastic guesthouse whilst in Johannesburg aka Jozi and they also found me a pretty damn fine wall to paint.

It was a late start on the wall, after an afternoon of running around fabric shops in the city collecting some new fabric snapshots. By around 2pm I started laying down the foundations of the painting.

A Zanzibar red colobus, (procolobus kirkii) have been registered as endangered for 26 years, since 1986. They are rapidly declining in numbers and it’s not the only colobus suffering from the same sad plight. This species is endemic to Zanzibar Island where it occurs at elevations of 0-110 m. They may once have lived on the mainland, but are completely extirpated there now. Red Zanzibars are now found mainly in the South Eastern part of the island in Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park. In 1974 approximately 14 animals were introduced to Ngezi Forest Reserve, Pemba Island, where the species is believed to persist in small numbers but has never managed to sustain itself successfully to rebuild numbers.

Today’s population is estimated at 2,000 individuals but is decreasing rapidly mainly due to deforestation but occasionally as a result of hunting, sport and supposed pest control.

By the time it got dark, I was only half finished the wall so returned the following day to continue and decided that I wanted to introduce a second endangered guy to the wall; an Amatola Malachite or Basking Malachite. These insects are also decreasing rather rapidly, with no more than 1000 adults left. Unfortunately when the farmed cattle arrive at the river banks, they trample these little guys to death and they only live in a few sites, ten sites has recently decreased to two and the future of these beautiful insects is unknown.

lots of love to the elfin for continuously fixing my scrawls and making them legible...
im off to safari today so the next blog is all about what i find...iv been waiting to go on safari since i was about seven years old...bittttttt excited....

one love

Thursday, 28 February 2013


So thanks to Disney and other screen presentations, we as the general public have a strange relationship with the vulture.  My first encounters with them were in South America and I was fascinated by watching them circling above in mass, tornado like cones. That was over 12 years ago now and unfortunately all species of vulture have experienced a rapid decline in numbers, 35% each year in fact, since 1999.

Africa is home to three very endangered vultures, one of which is the Egyptian. They cover a greater area than Egypt, finding homes in India, Eastern and Central Africa and also Europe.  There are a few reasons for their decline; the absorption of veterinary antibiotics which suppresses their immune system, declining habitat, urbanisation, a shortage of carrion, which they feed on and a whole host of other problems which they are fighting a losing battle against. The latter has a major knock on effect in the ecosystem, as if the carrion increases but the vulture population continues to decrease, then disease will inevitably become more widely spread. Vultures are imperative for cleaning up the lands death, which is not limited to animals, according to the religious practice of the Parsi people, their dead bodies cannot be buried or burnt because the corpses could pollute the Panchabhootam (earth, water, air, ether and fire). So their bodies are left in a high-rise ‘Tower of Silence’ to be consumed by the scavengers. Vultures were the first scavengers on Earth and are vital to a sustained ecological balance.

I painted this piece with a couple of graff writers from the Demolition Squad. Painting with writers is great because it changes the way that the composition of the piece works. The walls are always much longer and often not as high. We painted in an area, that like most graff or street art related areas in a city, are run down and full of lots of community involvement. This wall was no exception, we had only primed the wall when a lady with her yappy toy dog turned up demanding that we didn’t paint evil things. Over the next hour we heard this from another three or so people and we started to feel a lot of hate. This soon changed as the day progressed and the piece evolved, we eventually won the community over…

Much love to my new Jozi homies, hopefully I’ll get another piece done with these guys before I return to Capetown next week…

the guy taking the photograph above is a sick photographer... 
here is a link to his website...i urge you to take the webtrip over and have a look...hes also coming over to london in a couple months so im sure that we will be painting a few pieces together in london soon...

Monday, 25 February 2013


The art of being creative and creating art itself is something that has always been a part of my life since I was a kid, in fact it’s more or less the only thing I have ever felt I could do with real confidence. I began working with spray cans three years ago as I believe in constantly challenging myself as much as possible, however the constant bombardment of Internet street art viewing has left me feeling exhausted by something I truly love. It is this weariness which lead me to realise that if I’m going to continue painting on the streets and be a part of this cyber viewing craze, then I need a message and purpose behind what I’m doing. Although one of the most inspiring things that has come from this new age of accessible Internet art, is seeing that artists are now traveling the world painting walls from one land to the next, spreading their voice. Last year I spent time in Jamaica and this year I’m in South Africa, where half of my Dad’s side of the family live. With the desire to paint for purpose, I have embarked on a new painting project to highlight the plight of endangered animals, which, whilst it is difficult to be precise as many species die out without even being discovered, is a problem which continues to get worse.

Wednesday 20th February

I arrived in Capetown and sat down to indulge in peaches and juice with Indigo and her friend Raphael, at my adopted apartment for the month. By mid-afternoon on Thursday I had bought around 50 cans of paint and set to work planning my train journey up to Johannesburg. That evening I found myself in Woodstock for an art talk with Remed and Freddy Sam, which left me feeling even more amped for painting, not only during this trip but on walls around the world.

The Train to Johannesburg: Two Hours Down, 24 to Go

I’ve always wanted to take a long train journey, I’ve been on a fair few long bus journeys through South America but never a 26 hour train ride and the prospect is exciting. A few people tried to persuade me to take a flight but I won’t be told, I know when I need to tread a path, there’s an eternal passing landscape and for me, that’s the beauty of a train, the track always runs through the wilderness. Two hours in and I don’t know for sure but it seems that apart from some obvious heavy drinkers, I’m among a safe crowd. The sleeper cabins which are suggested for tourists were all full, so I’m in Third Class where all the action happens. I’m among clicks of Afrikaans and women singing, im quietly beaming.

Six Hours in a Tin Can

Blazing sun, tensions are rising, there’s now a genuine and palpable discomfort amongst some of the passengers. Is it the heat, is it the alcohol or is it just who they are? The afternoon sun draws to an end and I know it will start cooling down again soon, but not for a while. It’s time to listen to some music. Cigarette smoke fills my nostrils and burns my eyes. I can’t keep my eyes open longer than an hour, can’t keep them closed half of that. I’m learning my levels of tolerance.

24 Hours

I feel like I’m in a moving prison, my eyes are so heavy with sleep deprivation, my bowels expanded with no relief. Rumour has it we are sentenced to a two hour delay. The night got rowdy, people fought, young men prowled the train corridors looking for a pickup, everyone is drinking the boredom away. The morning is much quieter, we all shuffle on our seats looking for the next least uncomfortable position.

30 Hours Later

I’m here, I’m actually pulling into Johannesburg. Now can I go and paint please?

many thanks to ro elfberg for grammerising my punk ass

Monday, 17 September 2012


Cally Fest is a community run street festival, based in the northern lands of london. After the painting that i created there last year of lola my recently passed boxer dog i feel a very close attachment to the street. I spent the whole of last week up a monkey lift painting this new mural being asked.. if i done that painting of the bulldog round there...yup thats me...thats proper mate, proper... Its nice to know that even as a painting my girl has made impacts on peoples lives...any way so a new year, a new wall, one i been eyeing up since November last year... timed perfectly to launch this years Cally fest as lola did last year.

Cally website 

when i decided to paint macaws on this street, i wasn't really aware of why, other than i thought it would be cool to paint with so many insanely vibrant  colours. After a week of painting i realised that it was humorously apt that the squark of cally road matched the squark of parrots.

 The actual street that i was painting-Tilloch street is the boundary of one of the gangs...they are mainly youth and they all ride on bikes or mopeds, seldom on foot. They are pretty un threatening or at least they were accommodating to me, but one afternoon two kids decided to throw bottles and stones at me whilst i was balancing some 50ft up in the sky, balancing on the tip of the lift, painting this guys feather tips...and i do wear flip flops so yeah was a bit sketchy at times...

macaws come from latin america and in conjunction with my current works i added fabric patterns to the feathers. I also added a few musical apparatus in an attempt to link in the painting i did last year of lola... where she is wearing headphones.

Unfortunately the monkey lift didn't reach to the top of the wall and so i had to stop three quarters up... its my aim to get some funds together to finish the wall with a couple more birds... any ideas are welcome at this point.

it didn't seem right to be painting this street on my own and so i invited some friends to join in on the fun...enter hunto, tizer and milo...hopefully more pieces will continue to arrive...




with thanks and praise to one of my favourite london street art photographers