London / Street Art

London East End Street Art: Take Two

I had never really taken much notice of street art until living in London.  I was semi familiar with Banksy’s work but didn’t know much about him.  It wasn’t until going on my first tour last year, watching Exit Through the Gift Shop, and seeing a lot of street art in Paris did I really begin to appreciate this art form.

The street art scene in London is pretty amazing.  There is a lot of diversity and many artists from around the world come and leave their mark.  Since attending the tour last year I have recommended it to all my friends and of course here on my blog.

This time around, to be honest I didn’t enjoy the tour as much as when I initially went.  This may be mostly because I seem to be losing patience for guided tours and prefer to explore on my own.

Our tour guide Ben Slow, an artist himself, was really good.  It was nice to have an artist’s perspective on the street art scene.  Check him out in this video I found here.

I think hearing the history of the East End again was a bit boring as I remember most of it from last year.  I also felt that we could have covered way more art than we did.  Besides those minor criticisms I still highly recommend the tour.  Ben’s piece below was one of my favorites.

As the popularity of this tour continues to rise I can appreciate that ALT have to provide multiple slots to accommodate the demand.  I believe this demand has cut each tour a bit shorter which probably is why we didn’t get around to as much as the first time I went.

I did enjoy when Ben explained the beginnings of street art.  That the roots come from ‘tagging’ and graffiti.  This of course makes complete sense but I personally despise tagging and feel it serves no purpose.  Everything has to start somewhere I guess.

On the tour we came across a lot of Olympics inspired art.  There was a giant mural of Usain Bolt, cyclists, and more but I liked this bow and arrow seen above.  Behind me in the wall were arrows that had been ‘shot’.  Also seen; the little pink monster is called Crunchy by Ronso and is a credit crunch monster.  The big winged wrecking ball is by D*Face.

Finally, we were introduced to C215 a prolific street artist who manly does portraits.  Check him out in his own words here.  I really liked the two pieces we were shown but it was this third one that we walked right by which was my favorite.  The expression on the face of the boy makes me wonder what he is thinking.

Alternative London Tour still retains its status as being a free tour.  Though, at the end they ask that you pay what you think the tour was worth.  This makes it accessible for everyone’s budget.

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13 thoughts on “London East End Street Art: Take Two

  1. Cool.
    I went on my first art tour a year ago with the GF. It was pretty cool. Especially since have the graffiti type art is very new here. Coca-Cola recently sponsored a project allowing artists to pick a space and make it beautiful. It was really cool to see it all and hear about it, but I wouldn’t do it again as a guided tour. I would check it out on my own though. We’re alike in that way. I really don’t like repetition.
    I have to remember to check out this tour whenever I get to visit London.
    Info on the Love My Bahamas mural project: http://lovemybahamas.com/

    • Thanks for sharing that link. Street art is still kind of new in Toronto. There was always graffiti but commissioned pieces are fairly new. You should check out exit the gift shop if you haven’t. It is a brilliant film and covers the history well.

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