Chances are, if you’ve spent any time walking round East London and looked heavenwards for inspiration, you will have been greeted by… mushrooms. Christiaan Nagel is the man behind them, on a one-man mushroom - sorry, mission - to ‘cover the world in mushrooms’.
Herr Nagel was good enough to let us catch up with him while he wintered in Africa. (We weren’t wintering in Africa. We were wintering in Lincolnshire).
Hi. What are you doing in Africa?
I was on holiday in Mozambique and then came to Cape Town to besiege the people of the mountains with mushrooms. I’ve done four installations in Cape Town.
What aspect do you enjoy most – the creating of the mushrooms or the knowledge that more people will be seeing your work? Or even that people may not see your work for weeks/months and suddenly just go ‘oh, how long’s that been there’?
I enjoy making the works most. Also the installation process/finding spots. It’s funny it’s what I do EVERY day. It’s kinda like a practical joke gone too far. In Cape Town I’ll meet people at a bar or wherever and they ask me what I do for a living and i’m like, “uh I make mushrooms”.
Did you ever imagine you would make money from your art? Are you ever surprised by your notoriety?
Well I am very competitive and want to be the biggest street artist in the world. I’m annoyed that i’m not further in my career already.
Do you have plans to do something different? How long will the mushroom interest you? Or will the challenge of getting it to new areas sustain you for a while yet?
Well the mushroom is my new different. I’ve been a traveling painter for a long time. Have a look at my website under paintings.
But for now the world needs to be covered in mushrooms. I haven’t even been doing it that long. I think it’s about three years now and I only got serious about it about a year ago.
If we think about your work in East London. Is the idea of mushrooms growing anywhere as long as the conditions are perfect a reflection on the area bringing out the creativity of people? Are you influenced by other art/culture there or is London just a good place for you to exhibit your work?
Yeah, all of the above.
Do you think the East End is too saturated now? Are there any up-and-coming artists you are excited by?
I’m excited about quality works. East London street art can be messy at times. I see a lot of paste-ups that peel off and look ugly. Artists are not being very creative in terms of thinking about their materials and sustainability. If street artists in East London were engineers their buildings would fall down.
But then again there are some really good international street artists who fly by every so often. And i’m referring to Broken Fingaz crew or Roa, you know the real painters. I like painting not some Banksy copy-ass stencils.
Cheers Christiaan… Enjoy your trip!
Nice one bra…..
If you want to learn more about East London street art, why not pop along on one of our street art tours….it’s different every time.