I found it on Pinterest after searching things to do in London… and then ended up delving into an Instagram / Google image rabbit hole of London street art pictures. I loved them all and desperately wanted to see these often temporary artworks hidden up close. The colours, the messages, the pop icons, the dark humour and political messages… this was definitely the beginning of my interest in street art.
Street art essentially stems from artists wanting to share their work in a public arena without going through the whole gallery process, and the term itself often conjures up thoughts of political messages and anti-establishment vibes from the 70’s Punk Rock movement. I guess what I love the most is that lingering sticking it to the man vibe, it appeals to my love of music from the 60’s and 70’s and my appreciation for people willing to be their own weird selves.
Pretty quickly I was convinced that a London Street Art tour was a must for our London itinerary, and when I read about the possibility of seeing work by renowned street artist Banksy, that was definitely the clincher. We’d already spent enough time in lengthly cues, and we’d seen a lot of the must do’s on our U.K road trip through England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales our street art tour was going to be that unique surprise on our trip. Plus, some of the best tours I’ve done while overseas have been random walking tours.
A bit more googling and a tad more Pinteresting revealed that the best street art finds and the best tours were in Shoreditch, and after some careful-ish planning I’d worked out that from our tour we could walk via London’s Brick Lane to the Camden Markets and see even more street art along the way (this wasn’t a short walk, but it was better than riding the tube again).
Shoreditch has over the last 15 years become an increasingly popular and fashionable part of London, more recently, a surge in software and dot.com businesses has seen the area attract both artists and web technology companies. Shoreditch is quite the hipster hotspot.
“The word Shoreditch is now synonymous with the concept of contemporary ‘hipsterfication‘ of regenerated urban areas.
As a pioneer among similar transformations across the UK, various phrases have been coined, from
“Shoreditchification” to “Very Shoreditch” – Wikipedia
Now anyone can walk around and hunt out street art, I do it all the time… in fact I can even teach you how. What I can’t do is give you a detailed back story on the artists and medium used, what we wanted from our tour was expert insight and to not miss out on any of the best stuff, and that was exactly what we got.
Our Street Art Tour Guide was ridiculously knowledgable and had studied art extensively at university, she explained the difference between street art and graffiti and showed us not only large obvious murals but also teeny tiny artworks created out of chewing gum stuck on the sidewalk, as well as mosaic pieces, stickers, stencil creations, mannequin legs off the side of buildings and of course….. Banksy.
The scale and size of some of the works is mind boggling, there were both extremely huge pieces and tiny microscopic works. There were pieces created out of old chewing-gum, large murals, mosaics, stickers… there were even sneaky mannequin legs.
This was far more than wandering round looking at walls, it was a game of patience that encouraged us to more closely at the world around us. Something that I find myself doing all the time now, walking through Ponsonby or the Auckland CBD I notice tiny stickers, posters and scribbles. Our guide had armed me with knowledge and insight and had unknowingly opened my eyes to the teeny tiny details of the world around us.
Shoreditch Street Art Tours don’t feel like a high flying tourist venue, despite having received multiple accolades for excellence from Tripadvisor. Tours only run Thursday to Monday with both morning and afternoon options available, there’s no online payment when you book and there’s no ticket office, simply pay your guide with cash at the start of your tour.
Once you’ve booked online you’ll receive an email with detailed instruction on where to meet.
- £15 per adult
- 3-3.5 hours long
- Walking approximately 2.5km
- MUST TAKE your camera
- MUST TAKE a bottle of water
- Book online via www.shoreditchstreetarttours.co.uk