IMG 7473fi - A droog mural

Perhaps London’s best droog mural of all time? This is Alex Burgess, or more generally, Alex De Large, the violent ultra right droog leader in Clockwork Orange. And De Large constituted an impressive Clockwork Orange mural that stood in Shoreditch for a few weeks. Why was it impressive? I can only say it was, that being my own personal impression. Having seen what replaced it a few weeks ago, the replacement made no sort of impression upon me. Its a real shame they got rid of the De Large mural!

If you have been to this part of London (this being the area east of Old Street) it can be seen there is graffiti everywhere, much of it is authorised or public funded because art is part of the area’s lifeblood. I know people have different views on the subject of graffiti however here they are at least making the spaces available for artists to legally create some real impressive work. There are many fantastic murals to be found around the area. Some are permanent and others like this one, temporary.

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If you’ve read the novel by Anthony Burgess or seen Stanley Kubrick’s film, the story is about a violent and dystopian future. In Clockwork Orange Alex is the leader of the violent gang of droogs and the film basically goes through his life, going through the various motions as to why he becomes an ultra violent thug.

In the end he gets caught by the law and is sentenced to jail. The film culminates in the great brainwashing scenes where he pretends he has turned over a new leaf. This impresses the authorities so greatly they hail him as an example of how their new conversion therapy can make a violent prisoner into an exemplary model prisoner. If only that were really the case!

In fact De Large is simply going along with the whole charade in order to gain benefits, privileges and the rest of it. If the film can be tolerated right to its very end you will see De Large suddenly reveal that he has not in any way been cured of his predilections for violence and rape.

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The most popular cover of the book. Source: Medium

The essence of the story that Anthony Burgess penned in 1962 is really about the ethics of whether its right to try and make people good. Its a sixties thing really, coming at the time when psychologists were advocating thought control and conversion therapies as a means of making society better, and how it can in fact lead to totalitarianism.

Kubrick’s film doesn’t really examine sufficiently the arguments on controlling the mind and modifying people’s behaviours – some of which are indeed rather contentious in terms of ethics. Even though its applauded as a cinematic milestone, the film really doesn’t have the time to examine the morals/ethics side of the book sufficiently.

The mural itself, called ‘The Glitch,’ depicts De Large in the stages of his life as shown in the film. The glass of milk represents the drug laced ‘milk-plus’ Alex and his droogs excelled at drinking before embarking on a night of violence.

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Alex and his droogs imbibe themselves on a glass of ‘milk-plus’ before going out on a night of violence. Source: The Young Folks

The bowler hat in the mural is simply part the gang’s general attire and strangely makes them look more violent. Its likely the contrast that does it, the black hat versus the white clothing that gives an ultra hard edge to these guys. But its also the make up and the cold stares these guys too give.

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The clasps on his eye and the electrodes on his head represents the scene where the ‘Ludovico technique’ took place. This bizarre aversion therapy worked in such a way that it was meant to cure anyone of the violent tendencies. Its a scene that can be rather uncomfortable, even painful, to watch.

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The ‘Ludovico Technique.’ Source: Twitter

The mural was painted at the beginning of April 2019 thus it lasted a little over two months. Clearly its stay was extended due to popularity as it was only meant to be in place just one month. The artist who created it was Zabou. The image below shows the artist at work creating the mural, which was acclaimed by many people.

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Zabou creating the Clockwork Orange mural. Source: Twitter

A couple of weeks ago I took pictures of the picture that replaced the De Large mural. Some may care for the replacement but I didn’t. One can instead look away and admire the graffiti covered Jubilee Line trains set upon the top of the building behind this wall!

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The droog replacement mural!

Interview with the artist on her Clockwork Orange mural.