Last summer in London, my niece will tell you I tortured her with art. If I tell the story, while I’m sure I should say it was an educational experience (which it was), it was actually a bit of revenge for her shopping torture I endured in Paris. At eleven, she wasn’t quite so keen on the hip, edgy and temporary displays of art in Shoreditch and Brick Lane.
Body language of a tween says it all! She really wanted to go shopping instead of learning about Street Art
I thought rather than explore the standard museums – British and Tate Modern, I would introduce her to the world of street art. I’m sure I should have cared about her feelings but frankly, Aunt Sue wanted to do just one thing in the ten days and that was the Shoreditch Street Art tour.
Famous Banksy street art in London – behind a cafe, they added plexiglass and a bench
Love this Jimmy C Street Art in Shoreditch London
Having seen the street art of Melbourne, Paris and Santiago during my travels, London was next on my list. The more I learned about street art, the more fascinating it became even more so after viewing the documentary “Exit from the Gift Shop” (which is brilliant). If nothing else, street art allows you a bespoke adventure as the art on the walls today will be gone tomorrow. Just like life, the art is fleeting….
Yarn bombing street art in London
Street Art London – the shortened names make a statement
My niece and I journeyed over to Spitalfields Market, which in itself is a destination of market stalls and shops. It was a warm, sunny, blue skied June day and perfect for a walking tour. Despite visiting London many times over the years, I hadn’t been to Shoreditch (very trendy now) or Brick Lane area so in addition to the art, I would explore the neighborhoods too. Our guide met the small group of ten (we paid in cash £15 for me and £10 for my niece) and he began showing us small street art in the form of stickers along the street post.
This is not the bird of happiness – the street art in London
And thus our exploration began as every surface became a canvas for artistic expression in the form of stickers, paint, yarn, large scale pieces and small modifications. Street Art becomes a game when you start trying to find it mixed into the everyday minutae of life.
Street Art “I’m Not a Machine” in London – great reminder to stop and smell the roses
This was located in a back alley and a week later gone
For the next three hours we would turn down streets and alleys, told to look up, over and down to see the art that was hidden in plain site. For some of the art, there is no way that I would have found it without a guide or had the background to know more about the work and the artist so the guided tour was invaluable.
Street Art London Thought Control
Just like the other street art tours in Paris and Melburne, I took hundreds of photos, unlike those tours this time I had a tween asking me “are we done yet? when can we go shopping” while I was pointing out a Banksy and trying to explain it to her. Let’s hope when she gets older it all clicks (one can hope).
Street Art by Stix (left) and Otto Schade (right)
I’m back in London on the way home from my European sabbatical soon and look forward to wandering the streets of London in search of more fantastic works of street art. That’s the fun of street art, it’s never the same thing twice. If you are planning a visit to London do add the Shoreditch Street Art tour to your MUST list but leave the tween at TopShop (with supervision of course)!
The realistic street art in London by r-o-n-e
TopShop is all it takes to make a tween happy in London