Tiny people are emerging along the foot of walls all over London's East End streets. They are paste-ups by the Mexican artist Pablo Delgado.
If you don’t look down, you could miss them: the little people skirting the pavements of London’s East End. Down at the bottom of walls, they are walking with elephants, cycling, carrying a cane, eyeing up a panda. Sometime last year, little doors appeared around Spitalfields and Shoreditch, promising Alice in Wonderland mystery. Then dozens and dozens of tiny figures turned up, each of them different – a man walking a giraffe, women in burqas carrying shopping, Benedictine monks, waiters, joggers – all just inches high.
These “little people” are the work of Mexican artist Pablo Delgado, 32, who lives in Whitechapel, east London. Delgado began with the doors – there are around 50 of them on the streets.
“I started downloading images of doors from around the world and I worked with them and pasted them on to some walls,” he says. “It began because I felt claustrophobic at home. I live in a small place and see doors as an exit to a different world. These little doors give you more space for your imagination, the chance to wonder what’s behind them.”
Each of the paste-ups is different, but he does have recurring figures, not least the sex workers or putitas who lurk on the walls of Spitalfields, which until recently was one of Europe’s oldest red light districts. Delgado says: “The prostitutes represent what is happening in East London – with the Olympics everyone is trying to sell themselves and there will be so much money and people coming here. They are not really a comment on prostitution itself, though there is a history of that in this area.”Now Delgado has moved on from the sex trade. “I think of random concepts and characters, universal things like doors, chairs, gentlemen, animals,” he says.
Each of Delgado’s figures casts a shadow on the pavement. “My figures are two-dimensional but I like to think the shadow suggests something else.”
Some of the figures have vanished, as people have tried to pull them off and take them home. Delgado doesn’t mind. “It’s nice that the little people change with the rain and the dust. They are ephemera. And when some of them have been pulled off, you still see the shadow on the pavement and the silhouette of where they were and they are like ghosts.”