First words that come to mind when you hear Brick Lane? Probably: hipsters, curry restaurants, but most definitely STREET ART! Brick Lane is only a 10-min walk from me so I see amazing street art come and go constantly. Last week I decided to go on a graffiti tour around Brick Lane and learn more about the most prominent artists and their background.
I caught an amazing work in progress (see photo above) by the graffiti crew Lost Souls, consisting of the UK artists: Inkfetish, Squirl, SPZero76, Si Mitchell, Captain Kris and Cheba.
Find my full London street art guide here:
10 Best Places to See Street Art in London
Is street art in London illegal?
You would expect that street artists would be very secretive and underground, but surprisingly lots of them have their own websites and social media accounts. And being such a tourist draw, street art is condoned in Shoreditch, although officially it’s illegal.
Nowadays, street artists are even commissioned to create art for shops, galleries, media companies, organisations as the BBC and many more. I am very pleased to see this happen as many works look so stunning that I do feel that the creators should be recognised as true artists. When you see the photos of some of the works in this blog entry, you will see that these are indeed real street ART and much more than graffiti.
Here is just a small selection of photos taken on my graffiti tour. If you’re interested in more street art articles featuring artworks, interviews and background information on street artists, then check out my street art archive. And if you’re Dutch, you might want to join my guided tour of Shoreditch.
Shoreditch is famous for its abundant street art by world-famous artists, but this fascinating London neighbourhood has so much more to offer. Find some insider tips here:
10 Unique Things to See in Shoreditch
Shoreditch street art by ROA
ROA is one of the highly respected street artists. He’s from Ghent, Belgium and famous for his (usually alive) bigger than life black & white animals.
His mural of the crane you see on the right in the photo below, is such an iconic piece of street art. Being a sacred bird to Bengali, ROA painted the crane right in the heart of the Bengali community in Brick Lane.
But also this hedgehog adorned the wall on Ebon Street for a few years.
Shoreditch street art by Stik
The ‘stick people’ by London-based artist Stik are usually found on shutters and doors. At first sight they just look as very cute figures. But when you look at them a bit longer, you’ll see how they actually express so many strong emotions. Quite remarkable considering they only have only two dots for eyes and no further facial features at all.
This iconic mural by Stik on Princelet Street, just off Brick Lane, has been there for years now. Featuring a caucasian figure and Muslim female figure, both holding hands, this wall painting symbolises the multi-cultural neighbourhood of Shoreditch.
There is even a very dark work by Stik, tucked away on Grimsby Street, a side street of Cheshire Street.
Shoreditch street art by HIN
Paste-up artist HIN from Hong Kong satirises political figures in a very adorable way. I’ve seen some of his works before, often on doors and quite big. But on my way back home from the graffiti tour I came across a series of tiny cute politicians on a shop window on Bethnal Green Road. Here are just a few of them.
Shoreditch street art by Saki&Bitches
Also these works of sexy caged catwomen on Sclater Street, just off Brick Lane, by Saki&Bitches I hadn’t seen before.
Shoreditch street art by Banksy
And of course a graffiti tour wouldn’t be complete without a work by Banksy.
Different works come and go constantly. However, even in this fast-changing scene of tagging and claiming territory in public space, there is some kind of code of respect. Many street artists are so highly regarded that their works are left untouched by others.
Sadly for the owner of this door on Fashion Street, this original Banksy artwork hasn’t been treated with that much respect. The owner has tried to protect the piece by nailing a piece of plastic on the door, but some clever person came along, tore off part of the safety glass and stuck their own poster over the Banksy piece.
The combination of the text on the poster and the depicted action make an interesting result. Perhaps even more so if there would’ve been another poster underneath it with the text ‘ME?’ 😉
As a coincidence, just a few days after my graffiti tour Banksy, who is famous for his ludicrous publicity stunts, was in the news a few times. During his residency in NYC he first of all sent a truck, filled with stuffed lamb toys ready for the slaughter house, drive around the Meatpacking District in NYC. Watch a video of it here:
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to the Brick Lane graffiti and street art scene. Do you have any favourite works from this post?
Let me know in a comment below!
Thanks, Zarina xx