Street art is the biggest artistic movement of the 21st Century, and London’s walls have become a dazzling canvas for artists to let rip. The beauty of urban art is that it’s constantly disappearing, evolving and giving the artists an immediate audience whilst giving us a free art exhibition! Go on a walk and you’ll find street art anywhere, but we’re going to take you on a tour of London’s hottest places to find street art, from Dulwich to Dalston…
Let’s start with the daddy of the London Street Art scene. Brick Lane is globally famous for its high quality masterpieces, and artists from all around the world come to paint here such as the legendary Citizen Kane and French artist Zabou (pictured below). There’s art dotted all over the place so it’s perfect if you want an introduction to street art, and a well-known route would start at Aldgate East tube station and end at Shoreditch High Street station. I recommend checking out the Brick Lane car park (pictured below) and Princelet Street in Spitalfields – a fascinating area of unusual houses where the Huguenots (members of the French Protestant Church) settled in the 1700s.
Nearest hostel is Wombats City Hostel
It may be London’s hipster capital now, but Shoreditch was basically a dump 10 years ago! After WW2, mahoosive industries moved out of the area and left it a desolate land of empty warehouse. Now flash-forward to the 1990s, when the loft-esque spaces attracted young & unhinged artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Alexander McQueen. And thus a wild, creative community was born and the whole area transformed. It has remained at the epicentre of emerging trends and a playground for new street artists; you’ll find colossal wall murals such as the Village Underground Wall (pictured below) which is curated every few months with fresh talent and fresh paint. Add Curtain Road to the mix and you can even navigate your own street art bar crawl, finishing up at The Dictionary Hostel’s bar and terrace on Kingsland Road – gosh how convenient! 😉
Further east on the fringe of Shoreditch you’ll find Hackney Road where there’s been a dramatic increase in street art in the last couple of years. The boom in Shoreditch resulted in the rise of housing prices, meaning in the past 10 years the bohemian lot have spread to Hackney Wick. Start your art extravaganza by walking down Paradise Row opposite the station, then follow the route to the canals, and finish on Fish Island where you’ll find streets names after fish and an abundance of high calibre art.
Nearest hostel is Park Villa
An area that celebrates diversity, it’s only natural that Camden is a magnet to some outrageously good street artists. A popular one is Bambi, not the Disney kind but the acclaimed “female Bansky” of London kind. She rose to anonymous fame in 2013 after she painted a tribute to Amy Winehouse on a wall in Bayham Street, and now you’ll find her stencilled satires dotted around the area. Tip – the redevelopment of the Camden Stables has seen the street art head uphill to Chalk Farm, particularly Leybourne Rd and Hartland Rd.
Nearest hostel is St. Christopher’s Camden
Although graffiti was generally seen as a problem in the 1980s, Brixton was so rundown that the council commissioned street art to brighten up the area! 25 years later it’s now a totally transformed neighbourhood with underground music and street art at its core. There are many bars that have art within them, and Brixton Jamm regularly hold community projects and events for artists. The wall over the road from Brixton station is a regular mural haven, with a recent David Bowie tribute (he was born there in 1947) by Jimmy C turning heads. Stockwell Park Estate is just one tube stop on the Victoria Line and a must for any graffiti aficionado. A former sports pitch turned legal painting spot, the concrete walls act as a Hall of Fame for the latest talent.
Nearest hostel is Safestay Elephant & Castle
Further south of Brixton is a leafy area of Dulwich and an inconspicuous street art haven. It’s also home to the annual Baroque the Streets art festival where artists from around the world are invited to study the Baroque paintings and reinterpret them across Dulwich in their own style. This results in some astounding, original street art (see below.) On the actual festival day in May there’s art stalls, food, beer and last year they opened a house on Lordship lane that was covered in bright murals inside and out by artists from Australia to Mexico.
Down by this riverside you’ll find an explosion of culture including cutting edge theatre, concerts, contemporary art galleries, restaurants and a helluva lot of graffiti! Head to another one on London’s legal graffiti walls at the Skate Park and the Leake Street Tunnel is an assault to the senses. It’s known as the “Bansky” tunnel because he was instrumental in making at legal spot and you’ll find some of the best and worst raw graffiti here. If you’re interested in having your own spray session, here’s some more legal walls in London from The London Vandal.
So there you have it, London is officially your free art gallery! Go and explore this colourful city by foot, bike, or an organised London street art tour. If you are in to photography, we recommend a workshop by www.paulhames.com.