Painting the Barrier

The new, wedge-shaped security barriers around Leicester Square have been given a makeover by London-based artist Charlotte Posner. Her brilliantly quirky and colourful work is said to be “highly collectable” but I doubt if anyone will be walking away with these particular examples anytime soon. The barriers are designed to protect us from truck bombs driven into the square at speed.

Taking street photos in London back in the summer I got a few shots of people walking through the barrier, including the featured image (above) which links up with my previous post called “Holding Hands.” I guess these two come into the “slightly ostentatious” category: showing off their coupleness to all who notice.

Charlotte Posner, painting

Charlotte Posner
Together with assistants, the artist herself was still at work when I visited (above), signing her creations. Her art is witty and very London: featuring a cosmopolitan collection of characters, sometimes bedecked or even fused with iconic London landmarks. They all have a cheerful, touristy feel, alongside images of burgers, strawberries and pizza — inspired by the summer but certain to lift the spirits in winter as well.

Having exhibited around the world, in Japan, Lahore, Hong Kong, New York and Singapore, Charlotte Posner has also attracted attention here at home. She has been featured on the BBC Culture Show and has shown her work at the Battersea Affordable Art Fair. Her art is undoubtedly commercial: more decorative and less political than, say, Banksy’s graffiti — and likely to appeal to a wide audience.

Taking the Photos
The barriers themselves, being low, are tricky to photograph because they trap the viewer’s attention and tend to conflict with the faces and expressions of the passers-by. As a result, I found myself taking pictures of legs (fortunately, one of my favourite motifs), all the while hoping that a shapely leg would soon enter the frame. It did (below).

London leg

Here, at one of the busiest places in London, you can expect to find thousands of tourists flocking to the shops and cinemas at this time of year. Even while the artist was still putting the finishing touches to her work, quite a few teenagers were climbing all over it for selfies (below).

Two girls crouching on top of barrier, for a friend's photo

You can’t blame them. It’s just concrete, steel, paint and inspiration. It’ll withstand the assault of sneakered feet clambering on top of it, at least for a while. I guess I should return to see how it’s bearing up.

If you’d like to see more of Charlotte Posner’s work, her website is here.

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