When you think of London most people think of the Royal Family, Big Ben, the Tube and other top tourist attractions. But have you ever stopped to think about street art? Me either, but as I found out when I took part in the Alternative London Tour it’s alive and kicking.
The tour owner Gary, lives and breathes this stuff. He knows who created the pieces, how long they have been up, the history of the artists (how much he knew about each artist blew me away) and so much more. I might have only developed a passing interest in street art from my alternative tour in Berlin but by the end of this tour I was in love with it. So much of it you wouldn’t even see until it was pointed out to you.
The tour runs through London’s East End covering the Spitalfields, Banglatown and Shoreditch areas. Over two hours you learn about paste ups, stencils and spray can’s which are all used to create some seriously stunning art work. Of course you will also learn the names of these artist’s like Stik, Mighty Mo, Ben Eine and Invader to mention just a few.
The best part about this tour is that it is always changing. Councils eventually find the works and paint over them or the weather does the nasty work instead, so the artists return to create new pieces. It is a shame really as some of these art works are just so good I’d prefer to see them each day rather than a plain old wall left painted in a patchwork of colors after the council has been.
In my mind, for a free walking tour where you leave a tip at the end I don’t think you can go wrong and encourage anybody coming to London this summer to check it out. And if all of that isn’t enough to convinced you to take this tour, then see below for some inspiration.
Wow, those are AWESOME! I’ve never seen street art like that in my whole life living here… I LOVE the last one especially – SO COOL!
Much better than your work eh Lauren 🙂 I think I’m going to do the tour again to see what new art has appeared since last time.
I WANT TO COME TOO!
ok have to organise a date soon before you go. Need to book in advance a week or two.
Brilliant..and the last one’s my fave too! But it’s sad that other graffiti artists think it proper to deface the street art ( # 1 & 3) . Now *that* I consider very odd! I would have thought there’s be some respect among them.
Hanna I heard the last one had been painted over a week or two ago which is a real shame. Hard to believe it was all done with a spray can as well.
I think some people just like to tag things and it comes from the lower forms of the crowd from what the tour guide said.
What a great way to spend the day! The last one is fantastic, sad to hear it has been painted over. Thanks for telling us about this awesome free tour!
It was a great tour and certainly something different to see in London. Hopefully I can find a few more hidden gems like this over the summer.
Chris, after my second trip to London, I haven’t really sought out new ways to learn about the city. With the upcoming trip, I want to explore the food scene, and you just reminded me that I should do a few walking tours! Hopefully I can convince a few folks to come with me 🙂 If there’s one you want to do and haven’t, tell me and maybe we’ll go together.
Sounds like a plan Heather, there is always something I want to see 🙂
I love the one of the kid looking through the viewfinder!
very cool street art 🙂
Cailin that one was really cool, but as others have said the last one was my fav.
Wow, I love the bottom painting. I feel like you know a city better if you know all about the street art. The little mosaic at the top also appears every so often along Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul…but you’ve got to look really closely for them.
Yes the little invader guys are sneaky. I remember seeing some in Paris when I was there last year and then it was only because someone pointed them out.
I’m very impressed – hopefully PH & I will have time to do this before I get bounced out of London.. Its the ‘hidden’ things that give a city its heart.
I lived in London and didn’t know about all the street art- I’m shocked and a little sad that I’m just finding out about it! oh, well- I guess I have to go back!
Oh, London is alll about the street art 🙂
I lived there for the last four years until Feb and was out every weekend taking photos of street art. I’ve got a set on Flickr dedicated to them.
There’s some truly talented artists in London. I interview a lot of them for the website Street Art London. Google it if you like. It’s worth a look. You make me miss London…
Ok, I’m doing this walking tour next time I’m in town! Funny how I just watched Exit Through The Gift Shop (Banksy’s doc about street art)
BEAUTIFUL!! I esp love the boy ( the one that says Toby on it). Phuket has some really cool street art in Town. Not a lot of it though.