Graffiti, at it’s roots, is all about notoriety, ‘getting up’ and ensuring everybody knows your name yet nobody knows your face. Typically, this is done in the form of tags and throw ups however for one mysterious character a name simply wasn’t enough. Since 1999 The Toaster has been building international notoriety for tirelessly spray painting (yes you guessed it) the same image of a toaster in various locations and formats around the world. The last remaining member of the crew, self-proclaimed ‘Toaster A’ explained. “We wanted to get an image rather than a name famous. We'd all wrote graffiti for years but had become more conceptual in our thinking. If there were 20 tags on a wall and one image of a Toaster you'd notice the Toaster first. We hoped to get it up internationally so choose an image that would be recognisable worldwide.” The mundane nature of toasters lends to a surprise factor, particularly when constantly abstracted from it’s typical format. “The fact it's a household object would give it a sense of displacement on the streets. Basically we wanted there to be more questions than answers.”
From London boroughs the idea took hold and soon spread across the globe, highlights being on flags and banners in world cup stadiums, along the route of the Tour De France and on many London tube trains. Having also collaborated with many other street art heavy hitters including Moosey favourite Will Barras, ROA, Space3 and Zime, Toaster has managed to shape and reshape the same iconic image to variety of formats, even having created a short film about the project titled ‘Everywhere’.
Neon Blood, his new solo show opening at Moosey on the 29th of September, features a selection of his abstract re-imaginings of the toaster shapes including his personal favourite pieces in the exhibition, a series of hand-cut ‘sticker clusters’ in eye-popping neon gloss finish. “I love painting using touches of fluorescent paint and wanted to reference this in the title, hence the word 'neon'. What I do is a total part of me, unconditional, it's 'blood'. The sticker clusters are more elaborate versions of the ones I put in the streets so are at the heart of the project.” He has also in this show began to fragment his compositions across multiple canvas, creating an alternative finish comparable only to a decaying fragmenting strip of wall. “The gaps between the canvases are still a part of the flow of the work. Your eyes join the dots. 'Solar Burn' for me has a sweet dynamism to it and 'Modern Sea' a more calming, reassuring drive.”
In preparation for the show Toasters has launched a guerrilla advertising campaign seeing paper toasters literally covering many billboards and advertisement spaces in Norwich as well as in other quirky locations throughout the city, inviting anyone to hunt down and find a toaster of their very own.
Words By Jodie Smith