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Bringing the street to the Tate

students at UEL

A street art group founded by a UEL student dropped into the Tate Modern recently to offer a fresh perspective on pop art.

Over three hours, a dozen members of the Drips and Runs collective filled the blank walls of a museum room with primary colour-infused monsters and new interpretations of cultural symbols.

Around 2,000 people watched the endeavour on the Drips and Runs and Tate Modern websites while it was happening – the first time the museum has attempted livestreaming an art project. 

“We were taking our version of what we thought was pop art and translating it here because of the link between graffiti and pop art,” UEL second-year fine art student “Daggs” said. UEL has agreed to Daggs’ request to use his professional moniker rather than his real name.

Drips and Runs was invited by Tate Collective London, an initiative guided by and for young people, to create a mural responding to the Tate Modern’s The World Goes Pop exhibit, which features pop art produced around the world in the 1960s and 1970s.

Daggs said his main role on the Drips and Runs mural was to make sure what was happening in the room looked good on video – though he shies away from the label of director. He did add a few personal flourishes to the wall.

“I’m a bit of an installation artist. My work is pretty melancholic and dark and usually comes from unhinged places,” Daggs said. “I like to make immersive spaces that take people into a feeling rather than just watching or looking at one or a few things on a wall.”

Daggs, who’s 33 and lives in North London, joined UEL last year.

“I wanted to make a proper go at art rather than just scratching away. I decided I needed to learn about what I wanted to get into,” he said.

Daggs founded Drips and Runs with an artist friend last February. The group, using a rotating cast, meets once a month to collaborate on a street art project. Drips and Runs was invited to collaborate with the Tate Modern after a zine, a type of homemade publication, made by the group caught the eye of a Tate Collective London member.

The Drips and Runs artists took a private tour of The World Goes Pop with its curator, but didn’t go into last week with a set plan.

“It’s all very much spontaneous. It happens on the spot,” Daggs said, adding that each participant is very much his or her own artist.

The end result was a response to The World Goes Pop “in the sense that we were just taking it from a street level”, he said.

The mural was up for only one day, but the video can still be seen on the websites for the Tate and Drips and Runs.

“It’s temporal. It was an online event. We really wanted to test that format and see it as a way to engage an audience that might not come to the physical space,” Tate Assistant Curator for Young People’s Programmes Leyla Tahir said after the online event.

“The energy of having twelve people working here for three hours, just working, really focused… we’re just really excited to see it all happen,” she said.

Daggs mused that the project could open doors for Tate visitors who haven’t previously considered street art, as well as for Drips and Runs fans, who may not have visited the Tate Modern.