My London: Artist AK47

Controversial east London artist AK47 – aka Andy Link – launches his solo show Bullets Straight from the Heart on November 7 in Shoreditch. The founder of the arto-political humourist movement Art Kieda, he shot to public recognition in 2004 with the theft of Banksy’s The Drinker. Here he opens up to The London Word about Hackney life, his creative hub and his love for Ken Livingston…

I’ve lived in Hackney in east London for over 25 years and seen it evolve from the roughest, dodgiest area with mohicans and dogs on strings, to wax moustaches and labrodoodles. It’s the place to be, and offers a plethora of up-and-coming talent in all genres of the arts.

My most vivid memory is sitting on a traffic light all day in Trafalgar Square, to avoid getting caught up in the riots, whilst watching the poll tax riots!

My perfect London day out would involve a full English breakfast at the Mess Café, Hackney, opposite my flat, taking in a couple of new shows at the Tate and Tate Modern, followed by a visit to Vyner Street Gallery to see a load of new and emerging artists’ shows, then finishing the day with late night drinks in Stoke Newington.

I just love the colours of the trees and the sunsets in London in autumn.

My house is a hub of activity; it’s like a treasure trove of collectables, antiques and art. I have a wide range of friends, family and colleagues from all walks of life. Many ideas have been created under this roof! Where I am situated, there is a very clear view of the ever-changing street life of Hackney.

See London on a boat and you get to witness the city in such a different light.

I’ve never been to The Post Office (BT) Tower but always wanted to go because back at school as a child on a trip we were supposed to visit in 1972, but it was closed to the public the week before due to the IRA bomb threats.

Ken Livingston really loves and cares about this city, and people tend to forget it was him who secured the Olympics and not the buffoon that is Boris Johnson. He however stole Ken’s thunder and reaped the glory.

When I’m away I miss London’s 24-hour lifestyle and the fact that there’s always somewhere open, no matter what day or time of night, you can pretty much source whatever you want 24/7.

The rat race and the constant sound of police sirens drives me mad. As a child growing up in Yorkshire, watching TV I would always think the soundtrack of any New York film or cop show was that sound. At the time I thought how cool it was, but now I live in the city it is plain annoying.

The best advice I’ve been given was: ‘You can do whatever you want’, but this wasn’t told to me until my late 30s!

To revisit my past I would go to King’s Cross station and catch the train to Wakefield; it’s where I was born and grew up.

Hackney Downs Park is not as tranquil as it once was, but then again it is not like London Fields yet, where the hipster invasion is over subscribed.

My biggest inspiration has got to be my friends, all of whom encourage me, feed me ideas and share the love when I need it the most, as well as different points of view, feedback and constructive criticism.’

Bullets Straight from the Heart is the first UK solo show of commercial work by AK47.

It launches on Thursday 7 November at:

The Maurice Einhardt NEU Gallery
30a Redchurch Street
E2 7DP

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