Unless your walking around with blinkers over your eyes it would appear a majr shift is currently underway in the world of street art graffiti. One need only wander the cobbles of Brick Lane to notice beautiful portraits of women painted by both genders although the biggest shift seems to be in the number of women currently painting in public spaces. In part this is due to newly formed organisations such as Femme Fierce who organise female only paint jams demonstrating the high standard of street art graffiti produced by women. You need only glance in history books to know the girls have been painting walls for decades. On most occasions you wouldn’t know the difference between artwork by either sex unless you knew the artists background or spotted them painting. What’s becoming abundantly clear is that within but a short time they’ll be as many women painting walls as men. Nomad Clan is a painting duo making waves in the industry through their art and compassion for people in need of support. The hard working artists have built a collaborative platform highlighting their individual skill set. We caught up with them in-between projects for a quick chinwag…
How long you both been painting and where did the journey begin as individual artists?
Aylo – I Started painting around 8 years ago, back then it was just messing about, getting up and having laughs, until around 5 years ago when I moved back to Manchester having lived in the North East for 7 years working as a product designer. I found it hard to find design work in Manchester so I decided, as you do, to open a graffiti shop and revisit my passion, thats when I began making a career out of art.
Cbloxx – It began with me doing some dodgy stencil ‘street art’ in 2007 … weirdly it landed me in a couple of high profile exhibitions in Shoreditch amongst wave of street art : Nick Walker, Banksy, Faile, Dface and a load of now forgotten names that were hot property at the time! It was a weird journey and one I veered from quickly to become a Youth Worker. I did that for ages, going to work on council estates with young people and doing graff workshop stuff. After a million other weird experiences I went full time self employed artist and started taking things a little more seriously.
You both have distinctive styles from one another, what inspired your collaboration and the artwork you produce?
We first began informally working together in T&T, the all girl paint crew based in the north. It quickly became apparent that we had similar ambitions and drive, although came from completely different backgrounds. (cbloxx) My work was very heavily character driven and Aylo’s was a lot more letter based, so we did the usual graff hook up of a letter piece book ended with a character to begin with. We quickly got bored of that format and began to experiment a lot more, switching it up and slowly loosing the letters. (aylo) I wanted to step away from letter writing, it felt constricting, i always saw it as fun – like more of a hobby, but I think I got sick of it. Selling paint, doing bedrooms and commercial commissions, I realised that wasn’t the life for me and it seemed the right time to explore something new.
Where did your collaborative name derive from?
We were always on the move at that point, it was a transient time with a huge amount of change for both of us. Our personal lives were both pretty complicated at the time and we spent a good few months running away from reality, through painting, traveling and a lot of drinking! It was both a beautiful time – falling in love, but also a hard time!! Somehow through all of this Nomad became part of the name as it signified the wandering journeys we had both been through and I guess the clan part was to do with our commitment to putting art out there together!
One minute your painting walls and canvases, the next your painting one of the largest murals in the North West (UK). Tell us about that transition.
We previously worked on a big mural together in Manchester’s gay village 6 months before nomad clan, before we were a couple. This actually was the main catalyst for everything including nervous breakdowns! We got a taste for waking up every day and going to work four stories up in the air, above the hustle of the city. It was a lot of fun, hard work but rewarding.This put us in good stead for when unexpectedly, a woman who worked for a property development company happened to jog past us painting our favourite legal wall. Luckily we had been painting murals like fury across the UK in the months previous and had built a solid portfolio. Next thing we knew we were sipping coffee and discussing a huge new mural project in Liverpool.
Considering you’ve only been working together a short, your both extremely busy. Tell us about some of your other collaborative projects.
We have a fair few exciting projects coming up in the next month or so, but our priority has been ‘Art For Aid’ a part funded kick starter project that has taken up a good chunk of our time since Christmas. We are aiming to take our skills over to the Calais Jungle in the form of street art workshops for young refugees. There are 400-500 unaccompanied teenagers In the Calais Jungle Refugee Camp at any one time, many who have lost their loved ones on the journey from war zones/troubled cities to find a safe place to live. There is limited provisions for these children on the camp, and so we were contacted by a volunteer who works over there and asked if we would be interested in runing street art workshops, the idea being that this would give some much needed respite to the young people.
Our plan with the help of our Kickstarter backers, is to run a weeks worth of workshops where the work created will be exhibited across the UK. This will generate funds that will go back into the project, making it more sustainable and hopefully enable continued art workshops in the camp and maybe in others too!
If you would like to help us achieve this goal you can back us on Kickstarter Click Image
Another great project we are working on is ‘Cities of Hope’ This is to be the biggest street art project that Manchester has ever seen. Artist such as Axel Void, Faith 47, Phlegm and Case are amongst the line up along with a few of Manchester’s finest, all will be painting large scale murals around the Northern Quarter area of the City this coming May. You can read more about the project here: Cities of Hope.
Are you offended when bloggers highlight the fact your female?
Not really, sometimes it may challenge certain stereotypes within the street art world, which I think is a positive thing. I wouldn’t say though that its the most important defining feature to Nomad Clan, but it is however a truth! (aylo) we have tits!
There has been a huge rise in all female paint jams in the UK. How important are these live painting sessions to the growth of the scene as a whole?
I think Ayaan from Femme Fierce has a lot to answer for haha! Before FF there may have been the odd few jams, but now its everywhere! We are constantly receiving invites to new all girl events. Its good that women are being inspired to pick up cans and create art , it has also shone a light on some of the talent that has been overlooked for years. It could be argued that it has become somewhat of a fad, there are girls toting cans for the first time in their lives being given exactly the same opportunities as female artists that have fought for years to make names for themselves. Thats not necessarily our opinion as we have loved meeting all kinds of artists at different stages through these events, but I know that there has been some bad press around the hype.
What would Nomad Clan like to be doing more of in 2016?
It has started quite differently, usually we are pushing to get out and paint walls regardless of the bad weather or being broke after Christmas! But this year we have begun with more of a focus on studio work. We have practically been in studious seclusion, working on oil paintings, putting together project ideas and taking field trips out to art galleries! Its been lovely hahah! It’s kind of the calm before the storm though, we know whats penned into the diary and pretty much as soon as the sun hits us, shit is going to get real! We have mega projects coming up and potentially have things booked in for 2017 already!
Do you have any exhibitions coming up soon, if so where and when?
We have a Cities of hope group show featuring Axel Void, Faith47, Never Crew, Case, Phlegm and a whole bunch of other massive names, during May. We have a few plans up our sleeve if we manage to get our Calais project off the ground involving exhibiting at several locations across the UK.
Watch This Space…