This post will be more like a real-life version of 'Where's Wally?', but with noses as Wally and buildings as the scenarios. The noses of Soho were originally set-up as 35 different art pieces around the area but only 4 originals have survived. The trip I took covered 5 noses (one being an imposter), these being the most published ones online, however, as the artist never publicly added the locations of all of them, more may be hidden within the Soho streets.
Our first visit is under Admiralty Arch, which I believed to be a sort of gateway to the tour. Within the image above, if you look closely, you will find a real-life size nose stuck to a wall. As no-one knew what the pieces were for or from, until the artist publicised them, many myths were dreamt up. This has one of the best series of myths behind it; cavalrymen would tweak it in mockery of Napoleon, it was a backup nose for Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square around the corner or that it was a muse to the Duke of Wellington (he had a bigger sniffer).
In reality, the noses are over 20 years old, a series by artist Rick Buckley from 1997. He did not make a public connection between himself and the noses until 2011 as this would have destroyed the message he wanted to convey. This time was filled with a growing paranoia around CCTV and 'spying' on the public, the time of Big Brother and the rise of 1984 becoming more of a reality. The molds of his very own nose were specifically placed to be 'under the nose' of CCTV cameras or in well-trafficked areas.
Under the nose of everyone is more the message I feel, as many people were looking at me when taking the snaps with what seemed to be an expression of; 'why is he taking a picture of a wall in this cramped street'. Some of the passersby though would realise; 'my goodness, there's a nose on that wall'.
The above piece was the only when most people in the area seemed to know my purpose in photographing a wall, not a coincidence that the piece is a 'fake nose'. The Meard Street nose is the imposter within the walls of Soho, still an interesting placement and a slightly different message behind it. This one is unknown as to who has completed the piece, but looks as it has been taken from an actual stone statue instead of being a mold.
Whilst scouting for these locations on Google Maps, I found a familiar friend on the walls near Meard Street. A Space Invader piece, who you can find some of his pieces here in Paris, that reflects exactly Buckley's message. I find there is even more personality than usual in this Space Invader piece, a face both inside the invader, but also made with the cameras and ledge above.
This piece is even more easy to miss than the others in this post. The restaurant had kept the nose intact and part of their aesthetic but unfortunately hidden it away. Adding to the fun of the hunt, but unfortunately not the most photogenic, so apologies for that.
Outside Milkbar, the nose placed here had become somewhat more of an art piece, potentially interactive too by the amount of paint loss there was on it. The surrounding walls of the Milkbar restaurant were covered in street art too, in fact most of Bateman Street was. This nose was very easy to find but also hiding in plain sight. Transformers references aside, this nose would definitely go amiss to anyone except those looking for it, or sitting outside the cafe having a drink.
For me, this nose on Endell Street was the most random of those seen. Easily missable, and quite strange in its placement. The north end of Endell Street being quite a barren area, not much life going on in the street despite it being just around the corner from a wealth of cafes and bars.
Another sight linked a lot too the Seven Noses is the Ear of Floral Street. Very well accepted by the big brand store it is attached too and quite easily noticed as well. Whether this one was made in the same mold style as the noses is unknown, along with its creator. Regardless this is one of many 'tip of the hat' art pieces to Buckley's schnozzes in Soho.
Almost a "we hear you", but also a "we're being listened to, right under our noses".