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An art show looking at Soho's sexy past starts this January

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Shuby, a solo street artist, has brought her new exhibition ‘The Is The Spot!’ to the Lawrence Alkin Gallery.

Shuby began her work in 2006 initially taking inspiration from the singer and dancer Josephine Baker, filmmaker Bubsy Berkeley and illustrator Martin Sharp. Her street art has been pasted everywhere from Belgium, to Sydney, London and Paris.

Her debut solo show will begin this January, and she has taken inspiration from London’s Soho cinema clubs in the early days of the UK porn industry.

Shuby says: “I love retro film imagery and Soho, so it was a pleasure and an opportunity to research the history of cinema clubs and the films relating to the area.

"Having grown up by the seaside loving naughty post cards in the ‘Carry On’ era, sex comedy posters appeal to my sense of humour and cheeky side.”

The exhibition features 18 large silkscreen canvases in traditional Pop Art style. She has taken ads and blown them up to over a metere wide; from this she has added her own unique twist to the images – giving her signature to them in the form of masked bunnies, bananas and googly-eyed bowler hats (three things that make her work so recognisable).

“The masked rabbit represents a cheeky playful crusader that could be male or female,’’ she says,

"My banana motif has always been an ‘up yours’ to convention and the establishment. The bowler hats are a symbol of the city gents of London that flooded into the area to watch films like ‘Come Play With Me’’’

Now a hub for London’s party-goers, Soho was the heart of London’s sex industry for over 200 years. Until 1959, when the Street Offences Act came in, prostitutes packed the streets and by the early 60s the area was home to nearly a hundred strip clubs. Soho wasn’t shy about its scandalous nature, having tart card and neon signage directing visitors to the next naughty attraction.

This Is The Spot has been recreated from a calling card the artist remembers taking from a phone box in the area in the 80s. The card advertised ‘The Best Nipples In London’. Shuby has explained that she wants to capture the humour of this time rather than get into the politics of the issue.

Simon Sheridan, author of Keeping the British End Up and Director of Respectable: The Mary Millington Story commented on her work calling it; “Colourful, cheeky and affectionate.’’

He says: “This Is The Spot!’ really resonates today because so much of the West End's original character has been lost in recent years. It's an absolutely beautiful collection of work."

This Is The Spot! runs from Friday 20 January to Saturday 18 February at Lawrence Alkin Gallery. You can find out more here 

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