7 Jul 2014

East London Street Art

A lot of tours happen every week in London - bike tours, pub tours, architectural tours, historical tours, the famous 'Jack the Ripper' tour - and on Saturday evening my lovely friend Alex got us tickets to a Street Art tour around a small part of London's east end. 

Now, I'm a Londoner (west londoner originally) and I've been to Shoreditch/Brick Lane more times than I can count but I'd never really noticed the hundreds (probably thousands) of pieces of street art around there. From the stickers on sign posts to the pasted up paper pieces, stencil art, paint etchings on windows and the huge spray painted art works more than two stories high, it's all there, right under my nose and I'd never given any of it much thought aside from, "that's cool". All that came to an end thanks to 2 and a half hours on the tour. Our guide was incredibly knowledgable about the artists, their backgrounds, the meanings behind their work and the rivalry between them. She also knew a lot of interesting facts about the east end, the etymology of the place names and even it's inhabitants, including  Gilbert and George, a pair of tweed wearing gents who live in 3 storey house without a kitchen, and thus they go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. We actually spotted them on our way to spitalfields (which gets it's name from the ho'spital' that once stood in the fields where the built-up area is today - cool huh). 

Back to the street art, our guide gave us a little insight into how it all works in the sense of the etiquette behind painting over each others work. (Respect for certain pieces meant that some of it would remain for years without be painted over.) I think the transient nature of the art was the most difficult thing to get my head around. Imagine spending 2 or 3 days spray painting something that you thought looked pretty awesome, only to find that someone had painted over it a few days later with something kinda shit?! I think that's just the nature of the street art beast though, nothing lasts forever. 

But, enough of that. Here's a few of my favourite things which we saw on the tour.

I love you more than cheese 


please wait here until you are useful

If you're curious about Street Art and the artists behind it, or if you just fancy looking at a different side of London, this would be a good bet. Extra bonus points because we stopped at THE bagel shops Brick Lane about half way through, and at the end of the tour, our guide dropped us off at the Rockwell House rooftop where many of the street artists were hanging out thanks to the Meeting of Styles street art festival that happens every year! Talk about good timing. Unfortunately Alex and I were too shy to converse with the street artists but we did enjoy a couple of cocktails whilst admiring the views of the city. 


  1. This tour sounds ace; Thomas always laughs at me because, wherever we go, I HAVE to take photos of the street art, so this would be a perfect opportunity for me. I also really relate to your last line. The story of my life is being given cool opportunities to meet people and being too shy to talk.

    1. you should definitely take this tour - every single one of us were stopping to take pictures :) yeah, it was such a wasted opportunity but they were in little groups and I would've had to have about 8 drinks to work up to courage to go over and start chatting!

  2. What a cool way to spend your weekend! I never really venture east but it looks like I'm going to have to start! I love the bright coloured ones and the one that looks like the guy is in stocks. The bar looks awesome as well x

    1. yeah, it's definitely worth a visit, something fun always seems to be happening around brick lane. The bar was awesome and not a hipster in sight! x

  3. Oh I love street art! You are so lucky! My favorites are all the kitties and the marine life. I've been on the shy side most of my childhood but now I don't mind speaking to people even though the butterflies in my stomach still hang out down there. At some point I realized that the people who speak the most are generally, total bullshitters.


Ta v.much :)

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