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Sewing Machines in International Street Art

Posted by James Wolfensberger on

In 2013, the street art titled "Slave Labour" by renown artist and activist Banksy sold for more than $1,000,000.

The image depicts a young boy sewing a string of Union Jacks, and was first discovered in north London on a building housing an investment company. The sale was controversial, stirring the debate regarding ownership of street art. One camp claims that street art is a gift to the community and cannot be sold, while others insist that a property's owner has the right to do as they choose with the artwork.

The sewing machine has influenced other street artists as well, sometimes for aesthetic value, other times as part of human rights statements. While street art remains as unwanted "graffiti" and vandalism to many Americans, it is considered a significant art form throughout the world. I'm not very knowledgeable on the topic, but during a visit to Greece my family and I found the amount of spray painted murals and artist tags staggering - it seemed to cover every urban surface including many homes. We were told that graffiti is simply a part of the landscape in Greece and residents have come to barely notice or acknowledge it. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can comment.

We dug deep into the back alleys of the Internet to locate these ten examples of sewing machines central to street art.


Artist: Seth the Globepainter
Mumbai, Maharashtra

French artist Julien Malland, known widely as Seth the Globepainter, spent time in the Bandra suburb of Mumbai painting a number of exterior walls, sometimes at the request of property owners.


Buenos Aires, Argentina
Artist Unknown


Gore Park - Hamilton, Ontario
Artist Unknown


Jerusalem, Israel
Artist Unknown


Artist: Free Humanity
Los Angeles, California


Apparel City Sewing Machine (Business Property)- San Francisco, California
Artist Unknown

I could possibly find out the artist's name by calling this business in San Francisco where the mural adorns the building, but I'm not a journalist.


Seoul, South Korea
Artist Unknown


Budapest, Hungary
Artist Unknown

This likely does not qualify as "street art," but it's certainly a fantastic urban mural.


Artist & Location Unknown


Artist: AX
Rochester, NY


Now What?

How about some of these?


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