The Street Art of East London

Posted on 07. Jul, 2014 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, United Kingdom

london street art

Street art is a bit like guacamole, or disco music: you either love it, or you hate it.

I don’t know anyone who just feels moderately about street art. It seems that there are people who feel street art is nothing more than an elaborate form of graffiti, and there are others who view it as a city’s blueprint, and consider it to be an intrinsic part of the local culture.

Whatever camp you belong in, the fact remains that London’s Shoreditch (and East End in general) is nothing short of a mecca when it comes to street art – not to mention hipsterism and curryhouses, but that’s a story for another time. Having been graced by the works of Banksy, Stik and Invader to name a few, Shoreditch has become a must-do for anyone with a keen eye for art and, possibly, an Instagram account.

Want to know what my favourite pieces are?

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The beauty – or the problem, depending in which camp you belong – of street art is its unpredictability. Street artists are deliberately creating new frescoes in places where it is the most unexpected; constantly changing the face of what is has now become a de-facto open air gallery. No one knows what comes next.

People from all over Europe flock to London in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the latest hype; be it a controversial Banksy or an exciting newcomer with a fresh approach. Either way, the reality is that Shoreditch has become a tourist destination in its own right, much like the once punk Camden Locks or the still-posh-but-not-quite-as-much Notting Hill.

In these parts, empty walls are not just empty walls – they are future works of art. They are every artist’s canvas in becoming. And the fact that so many of the borough’s residents are art-oriented has had a major influence on the development of local cafés, restaurants and pubs, which now proudly showcase their artistic sensibility. The area’s popularity spiked in the 1990s when successful artists like Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin moved to East London and proved that it was, in fact, possible to be a successful, financially-viable artist.

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A juxtaposition that raised its fair share of eyebrows, what with considering the wealthy bankers that pullulate just a few hundred meters down the road in the City of London. Industrial decline and economic forces have never sounded more poetic than it does in Shoreditch.

Arguably, Shoreditch isn’t just London’s gritty, raw underbelly. It’s a place where disused warehouses host interactive exhibitions, where underpasses are used as playground for pop-up shops and restaurants. It’s a place where creativity knows no limit, and from which countless cities from around the world get their inspiration from (especially Berlin).

Who knows what’s next for London’s East End? Rumour has it that street art may not be there for much longer, as expensive and private developments are in the works, which could have an irreversible impact on the creative community.

But I don’t fear for London’s street art; I am certain that a new mecca will pop up eventually.

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13 Responses to “The Street Art of East London”

  1. Jean | Holy Smithereens

    10. Jul, 2014

    These are really remarkable. I think I’m in love with Thomas the TANK :)

    Reply to this comment
  2. Laura @Travelocafe

    10. Jul, 2014

    We didn’t have enough time to explore all the beautiful street art that London offers. Love to see some new pieces in your post. Very very nice.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Clay

    16. Jul, 2014

    I love street art like this. Thanks for the great post!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Thomas

    22. Jul, 2014

    I really like these pictures. I’ve been to London a couple of times and I love discovering new street art. I’m a big Banksy fan (there is some incredible street art of him in Bristol). Thanks for sharing!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Adam

    28. Jul, 2014

    Wait - people actually don’t like guacamole?! Impossible!

    I love the street art of East London. I took a tour there last year and it was super informative - now I can recognize several of the artists based on the artwork.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Clay

    30. Jul, 2014

    I really enjoy street art, thank you for sharing!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Nguyen

    31. Jul, 2014

    I love street arts. I think they are very fascinating. I used to watch an artist spray painting the street arts and he did so well. Love it! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Sarah Jun

    02. Sep, 2014

    I did not know that there are some wonderful place for good photos like that in London. Thank you for sharing

    Reply to this comment

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