Street art duo Miss Bugs has created this series of artworks that are designed to blend in with a variety of backdrops around London, including advertising posters, murals and even postboxes…
Titled Cut Out/Fade Out, the artworks are constructed on MDF frames, and feature collages made up of photos of the underlying location overlaid with other found images. Many of them are over 8ft tall. Once completed, Miss Bugs places them in position on the street, and leaves them there for the public to respond to. “I think the longest that a work has stayed in place is two weeks,” says Missum, one half of Miss Bugs, “though I think most installations are pretty short-lived and are moved by the council. No doubt they consider them an obstruction or some sort of health and safety hazard.”
Due to changing visual landscape of the city, the duo have to work quickly to make and install their works before the backdrops they are based on change. “Once we have chosen the location we try to work as quickly as possible as things in the city tend to change rapidly,” explains Missum. “We have no way of knowing if the billboard advert or the wall that we used as a backdrop to our piece is still going to be there or if it will be painted over when we return. So we normally have a rough idea of the figures and can create a piece and take it to the location within a week.”
Cut outs in the studio before installation
Occasionally things go wrong, however. “We’ve been quite lucky, although we have lost a few,” continues Missum. “One was a London Tube sign on a building site barrier. We spent a week working on it and went to the location to find the workmen with the barrier had up and left! It’s a little upsetting to have put all the work in and then not be able to see the final result, but I guess that’s the downside of working in such a dynamic medium.” So far, Miss Bugs has placed around 20 artworks on the streets around London. They have also recently created cut outs to use as part of an indoor set, although Missum admits she prefers the street works. “Although the Cut Outs can work indoors as part of an installation, they are definitely more theatrical in this setting,” she says. “I think they really work best when found on the street – that’s when people can connect with them and more often than not start using their phones to photograph themselves and their friends posing next to them.”
Miss Bugs rarely finds out where the artworks end up. “Probably a few have been taken to a new home but we’ve seen one in the back of a Westminster Council waste van, looking pretty sorry for herself,” says Missum. “We always hope a few manage to stick around for at least a day or two so people can enjoy them. We always watch for a while at a distance and see people line the piece up with the background on their camera phone or just put their arm round them and give them a kiss. I’ve always liked art that people instinctively interact with, something that can’t always be done with a flat picture on paper or a wall.”
If you’d like to see some of Missum’s work in the flesh, she is holding an exhibition of works on paper at the Ink_d gallery in Brighton from this Friday (October 21). More info is at ink-d.co.uk. To see the cut out works, however, you will simply have to keep your eyes peeled around London Town… More on Miss Bugs can be found online at missbugs.com.