London, like a lot of cities, has become over the years the playground of street artists, which create full work of art for everyone lucky enough to discover them.
Far away from the vandalism mentality, real street artists can make every inch of a wall a masterpiece.
But London is huge and not every area is dedicated to street art, you need to know where to go to find them.
So here are some tips to discover the good spots in London to start your hunt!
First you have to keep in mind that street art is not permanent, it’s even common that it has a short-life expectancy. Except a few Banksy now protected by a glass, most of the graffiti seen today are likely to disappear tomorrow but some area of London are a cradle for street art and you’ll always see some new graffiti on the walls.
It’s the beauty of street art, every time you walk along the same street, you can see something different. This is why we call it a hunt, because you have to search for them and find them.
You won’t find this place until you hear about it. This tunnel is a street called Leake Street that is located under the platforms of the Waterloo Station. Known as “Banksy tunnel” it’s where he created the Cans Festival in 2008 an event during what, a lot of street artists came to paint some of their best features. Since that time, the tunnel is the place for seeing plenty of graffiti. There are also good chances that some young will practice their talent when you’ll be there. It’s probably the only place where the graffiti is almost tolerate so street artists can practice it without getting any trouble.
Don’t miss the sign outside the tunnel!
East End is definitely the quarter to see amazing street art. The area is quite vast and can be divided in 3 parts. Along and around Brick Lane, along and around Hackney Road, inside the triangle between Shoreditch High Street station, Hoxton Station and Old Street station. Be prepared to spend hours there. You’ll see new piece of wall painted at every street corner. Make sure when you are there to look at every small alley, as graffiti are absolutely everywhere.
Camden, Regent’s canal or Portobello
Camden and Nothing hill, probably because of their market and the crowd they attract and there trendy atmosphere, have also some great graffiti. It’s at the Roundhouse that the mermaid by Banksy used to be and another one, used to stand in Jeffrey Street not so long ago. Sadly both are gone by now. While you leave Camden you can follow Regent’s canal to get some more pieces. Regent’s canal is quite long and street art can be seen at several spots all along. The best then, is to grab a bike and just go with the flow!
Looking for Banksy?
So you might be interested in seeing the most famous of the street artists: Banksy! The native from Bristol has many times left his signature in and around London but because of its incommensurable success it seem that all his masterpieces have a great expansion to disappear from the street and reappear in some auction house! Anyway, the question then would be: is there any Banksy graffiti left in London? And the answer is: yes. There are a few. But to see them you’ll have to get to some special spot.
“If graffiti changed everything…” is located in Clipstone Street W1.
“The Cop” is in the terrace of the Club Cargo in Rivington Street.
“Velasquez” is at the corner of Acklam Road and Portobello Road.
So far only this 3 are still on the site.
So now you know that there is much more to see in London than Buckingham Palace and the Tower Bridge!
Text and pics by Emmanuelle Bluman