Whitecross Street Party: Dog-faced man is party animal

Teddy Baden

Teddy Baden - Credit: Archant

Teddy Baden gets tongues wagging with the canine mask he wears out and about. He talks art, undead poets and street parties with Georgie Conway.

Dog-mask-wearing street artist Teddy Baden features man’s best friend in all his work.

The former Islington artist, now based in Hackney Wick, has had his pieces displayed in Glastonbury and around the streets of east London, where his mask has quickly become a local trademark.

“It’s hard to put into words exactly why I like dogs so much,” says Teddy, 36. “They’re not human, clearly, but they are the most human non-humans I’ve had the pleasure to be around. I have a natural understanding and love for dogs. I always have.”

Since 2010, Teddy has been the founder and organiser of the “Rise of the Non-Conformists” Whitecross Street Party near Old Street, where he has utilised his puppy love to help bring the famous east London street market back to life alongside Islington Council. “Whitecross Street Market has an amazing history,” he said.

“Formerly known as Squalors’ Market, it was rugged and very poor.

“There are plans to start a new market just around the corner, closer to the City and the banks and the office bods.

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“If this happens, it will cripple the Whitecross Street Market. The traders will lose all their trade – many of them I’ve got to know over the previous Whitecross Street Parties.”

Teddy himself is no stranger to being moved out of a run-down area to make way for unaffordable developments. His house in Islington was knocked down once the area started to become more affluent.

The non-conformist theme of his parties was inspired by his late-night trips to the graves of famous poets when he lived nearby.

“I used to jump over the back wall of Bunhill Fields to visit the graves of William Blake and Daniel Defoe and imagine zombie poets and painters coming out from the earth to show their talents,” he said.

“A little bit like Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, but more like a costume drama.”

The Whitecross Street Party, which next takes place on July 16, is a lively street art party curated by St Luke’s Community Centre and Teddy.

“I was mainly focused on making an, at the time, more run down street a bit more colourful and vibrant, and I invited along people I thought were doing interesting creative things,” he said.