In my first post about my trip to London, I talked about the pubs, parks and plaques around the city and how they play a prominent role in the everyday lives of Londoners. But there’s another side of the city that has contributed to shaping its cultural and artistic qualities and that’s the street art scene. Noted as one of the best cities around the world for street art, I couldn’t wait to explore it.
I’ve really gotten into street art since I did a tour in New York City with Levy’s Unique New York back in 2012. For the first time I wasn’t just passing by a pretty picture or mural painted on the side of a building, I was learning about the different styles and techniques, the effects it has on urbanization, and the God-like status some of the artists attain. Later, a trip to Montreal in 2013 would further propel my interest in the scene as I watched artists from around the world create brand new pieces over the course of a weekend for the 1st Annual Mural Festival.
My first instinct was to book myself onto a tour of London’s East End. I figured I’d get the most out of exploring the area on a guided tour where I could learn more about the artists and their pieces. But availability and pricing prevented this plan and instead I decided to explore the area on my own.
Before heading out, I found a free app for my phone from Geo Street Art called Street Art London. The app offers a map of the city with pins dropped on locations where pieces are located. You can tap each pin to see a picture of the piece and to learn the name of the artist. The app also allows you to filter your search by artist name and the home feed displays the locations of the latest pieces of street art around the city. I loved using this app because it was like I had my own private tour guide with me.
Street art can be found all over London, but the majority of pieces are in the East End, specifically in the Hoxton and Shoreditch areas. I took the Tube to Old Street Station and meandered my way east and then south through the neighbourhoods. I took so many photos throughout the afternoon, but below are some of my favourite pieces.
The following three photos are by Jimmy C, an Australian artist who paints portraits and urban landscapes entirely with blobs .
One form of street art is wheatpaste, which is created by drawing the image on paper first and then gluing it to a surface using wheat flour or starch and water. The first two pieces are by Swoon.
Roa is an internationally known artist from Ghent, Belgium and paints large scale animals in black and white.
Many of these pieces I found using the Street Art London app but I came across countless others that weren’t pinned on the map. As an outdoor museum, so to speak, street art is meant to be discovered on your time and the best way to do this is to just ‘get lost’ in the neighbourhoods. Think of it as a scavenger hunt!