Explore London’s vibrant street art scene, catch a glimpse of some of these hidden treasures and discover some new works
Street art became popular in the 1990s, after graffiti art became a phenomenon and now you’ll see new works popping up on every street corner of London. Like Berlin, São Paulo and Melbourne, London has made a name for itself as a city which celebrates this form of public art and a place where emerging artists become international superstars.
The East London area has perhaps the most street and graffiti art per square mile compared to the rest of London. First stop is Heneage Street in Shoreditch just off Brick Lane. Here you’ll find an enormous wall mural by Sheffield based street artist Phlegm. His work is characterised by an illustrative style and stylised narratives that overflow from his black and white self-produced comics. Phlegm’s street art is dotted all across the city - find out later where you can spot another one of his famous works! Walk towards Shoreditch High Street Overground and discover a piece of work by LA based artist El Mac at Hewett Street. Known for his photo realistic murals, El Mac’s astonishing wall mural features a very handsome cowboy sporting a Stetson and a handlebar moustache.
Stay in the Shoreditch area, look up and we guarantee you won’t miss the invasions. These invasions are by French artist Invader who since 1998 has been developing a large-scale project, Space Invaders. The invasions you see in London are normally composed of square ceramic tiles inspired by video game characters. This project is about liberating Art from the confines of institutions such as galleries and museums, and also freeing the Space Invaders from the virtual into the physical. Take a walk down to Old Street and you’ll be sure to spot more invasions along your way.
Next stop, Hackney Road in Hoxton, where you’ll see some of the work of Belgian artist ROA, his work is some of the most recognisable street art in London. ROA generally paints black and white animals, and they always interact in some way to the environment around them. Here you’ll see his famous giant rabbit which stands at 12-feet-tall. Hackney Council once threatened to remove this artwork but luckily after there were petitions to save it, they withdrew their complaint. Down the road you will also spot another of ROA’s works (and if you would like to discover more of his other famous critters, try our Street Art Walking Tour).
Hop on a bus to Bloomsbury and you’ll see work by Stik, featuring three Stik people on the rear wall of St Giles-in-the-Fields Church. Stik’s street art is open to interpretations but his artwork undoubtedly comments on the social conditions of contemporary urban society. Stay central and go south of the river to Southbank where you’ll spot another of Phlegm artworks. Painted on the side of the Queen Elizabeth Hall & Purcell Room building, his iconic long limbed characters make a return. Plus, look upwards to spot another ROA!
Banksy is perhaps the world’s most famous graffiti artist. If you have never heard of him, where have you been hiding? Only a few of his works remain in London as they tend to be quickly painted over by authorities or removed and sold to private collectors. ‘Shop Til You Drop’ on Bruton Lane in Mayfair is still going strong; the street art depicts a female shopper plunging from a high rise building. It is thought that this work was in response to the madness of Black Friday.
Earlier in the year, a brand new Banksy work popped up on the side of the French Embassy in London. The artwork used the poster for Les Miserables as inspiration, it depicted a girl with tears in her eyes as a can of teargas laid beneath her. The work criticised the French authorities for the use of teargas on the people in the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp. Unfortunately, you’ll have to search the internet to see Banksy’s latest work as it has since been covered up by a building firm who said they wanted to preserve it.
Want to see these famous artworks in the flesh? Join us on our Street Art Walking Tour to catch a glimpse of some of these hidden treasures. Since the street art scene is constantly evolving, you might just discover a new work by a world-famous graffiti artist!