When you hear the words ‘street art’, you automatically think of young vandals running wild at night and ruining the walls of the local corner shop with bright spray paint, but lots of the work these artists do is actually mesmerising and admired. If you’re ready to take your artsy eye out of the galleries and into the streets, check out these spots around the city to find some of the most inspiring and unique pieces.
Shoredtich is hip, creative and ‘down with the kids’ so it’s really no surprise it attracts so many street artists. In fact, there’s so many areas thriving with this kind of art that there’s actually dedicated walking tours guiding you around the best locations. There’s everything from abstract works to portraits, bright, elaborate colours to monochrome designs, and around every corner, there’s a new surprise awaiting your discovery.
We largely have the infamous street artist Banksy to thank for this, as you might be lucky enough to stumble across one of his pieces on Rivington Street that self-designates the wall as a graffiti area. Given the praise the anonymous Banksy has received for his works, this very piece has actually been covered by plexiglass to prevent it being damaged by weather or other artists. Isn’t this technically vandalism protect from vandalism? But it’s clear to us today, Banksy has helped shape the more positive outlook people have on street art.
Nomadic Community Garden on Brick Lane is a real transformation story. Once displaying an unloved and seedy air, the space has been turned into a secret art garden of sorts (well, not that we’re telling you guys. Oops.) The volunteers who restored the area have helped fill it with the art, sculptures and beekeepers you’ll find there today. Yes, the garden has a bit of an eccentric feel to it, but there’s a real sense of community that can’t be missed. Take a stroll through the plants and admire the works of several street artists who have taken advantage of the garden’s safe space.
Where: Fleet Street Hill, E1 5ES
Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel
It wouldn’t be a street art guide to London if we didn’t mention Leake Street. Known as being an area where graffiti is championed, rather than looked down upon, this road tunnel has become one giant canvas for artists over the years, and today the tunnel looks like an explosion of colour. Pretty refreshing from the damp and dark underpasses you’re used to seeing, right?
Again, Banksy is largely responsible for these creations as it was ‘he’ who organized an exhibition back in 2008 where artists from all over the world came to decorate the tunnel. The road is now restricted to pedestrians, so take a wander through this famous tunnel and see what catches your eye!
Where: Leake Street, Lambeth, SE1 7NN
Located beneath Queen Elizabeth Hall, this park is a famous skating hotspot, but it’s also a completely free space frequented by artists and photographers from all over the UK who come to release their creativity, and showcase to the world. The walls are splattered with colourful drawings and paintings that are probably quite distracting if you’re rolling around on your skateboard. But luckily for you and I, board skills aren’t a requirement to get a slice of the action here.
The artistic energy pulsing from this park gives it an irresistible charm, and maybe you can even get a shutterbug there to snap an edgy picture of you for your Instagram.
Where: 337-338 Belvedere Road, Lambeth, SE1 8XT
Brixton has been popular among street artists since the ’80s, but since its redevelopment much of the art from then has since disappeared. That being said, you’ll still notice some stellar paintings scattered across the area.
Take a stroll down Bellefields Road and check out the symbolic murals showcasing different cultures and buildings, or the war memorial painted in Stockwell Memorial Gardens. Perhaps the most popular, though, is the David Bowie mural, which became an unofficial string following his death, where fans nearly buried the painting from view with flowers and tributes. This mural has since been retouched and had a protective covering added to it, and you can find it on Tunstall Road.
Head to North London and immerse yourself in the markets, culture and vibrance that is Camden Town. The friendly, quirky vibe of the area is the perfect home for street art, which you can find all over Camden, tucked between vintage shops and proudly displayed on bridges.
A couple of favourites are the various Amy Winehouse paintings which all have their own tributes to the singer, and a large piece on Hartland Road that depicts a busy, rainy London night. Somehow, the artist made this look like a beautiful scenario instead of the damp and grouchy atmosphere we know it can truly be…we guess that’s why they say art can transport you to another world.