Artist Spotlight - Shay Press

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Feb. 5, 2021, 2:46 p.m.

We thought it would be nice to start profiling some of the fantastic creative talent around the borough. If you’d like your practice, in whatever creative discipline, featured in future editions please do get in touch.

This month’s artist is Shaypress, whose beautiful street art is commissioned for walls and hoardings all around Enfield – his newest piece was recently installed on the shutters of Boho Flo in Enfield Town.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an Enfield based artist, focusing primarily on street art and urban mural design. I began pasting street art pieces a few years ago in Edinburgh where I studied and lived for a few years, but it wasn’t until the first lockdown phase of 2020 where I began to populate my local area of Enfield with new artworks related to the pandemic.

This initial hobby has received positive reception from Enfield residents and shop owners and has led to collaborations with independent businesses in my local area. My aim is to improve the urban landscape and ultimately make art more accessible to the public.

I split my time between my own artistic practice and working on a freelance basis for an art studio in central London.

Where would we find your art in Enfield?

The ‘interesting’ thing about my form of art is the fact that it does not always stay around for very long! I do believe this is connected to the social stigma of ‘graffiti’ and vandalism but fortunately some pieces have remained. My Ghost Dogs can be found by the parade of shops on Baker street, and are a stone throw away from a commissioned mural for North London Music Centre, which is across the road.

Other commissioned shop fronts include an interior mural for the Blue Mermaid fish and chip shop on Chase Side, and an exterior mural decorates the metal shutters of Boho Flo on Lancaster Road. And I have recently finished an interior and exterior design for Ginger & Green in Winchmore Hill - with plenty more to come in Feburary.

What artists have inspired your work?

There’s a tonne of artists whose work I absolutely love and enjoy, but I can’t say that I’m directly inspired by their work visually. If anything, I’m far more drawn to historical sources for visual inspiration, and modern urban artists for their technique and the street art culture in general.

I’ve always struck by the visual presence and accessibility of street art, an eternally modern phenomenon, but I’m always harking back to historical aesthetics for visual inspiration. The vintage American pin-up style of Norman Rockwell has featured quite heavily in my work as well as other British artistic sources (Boho Flo for example is a reference to the British artist John Waterhouse, and his painting The Soul of the Rose [1903] )

It is the combination of different artistic styles which interests and inspires me the most, and to bring this old style of art beyond the confines of the museum and into the domain of the public walkway.

Why do you live and work in Enfield? What’s great here?

I live in Enfield town, close to the locations of many of the artworks. I suppose my immediate area has been a bit of a training ground for my practice. But it is also inextricably tied to the lockdown situation last year. I could put up a piece and be back home within an hour, within the limits of exercise time.

But lockdown really made me appreciate what’s on my doorstep. I was working in central London prior to the outbreak and I always regarded Enfield as a bit of a hub, an ideal commutable location that’s close (and relatively affordable) to London. And I think a lot of people regarded Enfield in this way prior to lockdown. But, given the travel restrictions, I like to think that attitude is changing the more that we rely on our immediate area and local businesses.

It’s by working with local businesses which has made me appreciate what is available in Enfield and it has made me fully appreciate the local entrepreneurialism and culture of its residents.

There’s a very rich history in Enfield, and I believe it’s future relies on investment in local businesses and independents.

What would you like to see more of in Enfield, culture-wise?

I’d love to see more creative opportunities for local residents and rotating exhibitions of local creatives. Throughout this year I’ve met many local artists and craft based groups, more than I anticipated. And more often than not, these groups are self-funded, and voluntarily organised.

There do seem to be many regeneration projects underway at the moment, which is great, but these do tend to be construction or building related projects and I’d hope that an equal amount of interest was focused on independent creative groups and projects. It would be great to see call outs to local artists and designers, which I’d hope would create a community centred on local creativity and culture.

Thank you to Shay Press for this wonderful interview. If you would like to see more of the artist’s work, make sure you do follow Shay on Instagram: @shaypress

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