Sheffield graffiti show is just capital

GRAFFITI  Graffiti by Phlegm at Brown Street, Sheffield.      9 May 2011
GRAFFITI Graffiti by Phlegm at Brown Street, Sheffield. 9 May 2011
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He is a street artist whose distinctive black and white spray paintings have appeared on walls all over Sheffield.

Now the Nether Edge graffiti expert known only as Phlegm is to move upmarket: his work is being exhibited for the first time at a London gallery.

The artist, in his 30s, has transformed the prestigious Howard Griffin Gallery with huge murals of fantastical creatures and long-limbed humans.

Sheffielders may recognise his work. Dozens of his paintings dot walls across the city, including Rockingham Gate, Westfield Terrace and Leadmill Road. Perhaps the most famous is a boat spray-painted on a riverside wall behind The Riverside pub in Nursery Street.

For his debut exhibition, The Bestiary, Phlegm spent six weeks creating more than a dozen large-scale works at the Shoreditch gallery.

But they are all set to be destroyed or painted over in another six weeks because the artist does not believe in commercialisation.

Nothing will be for sale, with the exhibition instead focused solely on the experience of viewing art.

Phlegm himself refuses to speak to the Press. “I feel I’ve demanded enough attention off people by altering their public space,” he once said in an email to The Star.

Curator and gallery owner Richard Howard-Griffin said: “It’s unusual to have a show of this ambition and magnitude in Shoreditch.

“But it’s ephemeral and afterwards it’ll be smashed up. It’s not for sale, in line with Phlegm’s philosophy as an artist to just make art for the sake of art.

“Often in the art world art becomes commoditised, but Phlegm doesn’t identify with that as much.”

The show will run until Tuesday, March 4.