London Street Art: A Touriocity tour

london street art tour Banksy

On Saturday I went on a London Street Art tour around the backstreets of über trendy East London with the most knowledgeable guide, Rob Humphreys. I was invited by Touriocity a group of really enthusiastic travel industry experts who are passionate about creating bespoke tours around our favourite cities in the world offering travellers a more personalised and enriching experience.

What is a Touriocity tour?

London street art tour

Touriocity have contacts with the most knowledgeable guides in every city; guides or Travel Concierge as they are called, who don’t simply reel off facts but add to the tour with their extensive and fascinating knowledge. Tours include everything from sport tours, art tours, regular tours or maybe a deep dive into the hidden part of town. Touriocity can arrange a bespoke tour to suit you and your interests.

London Street Art tour

london street art tour meme

Probably the most fascinating tour I’ve ever been on. I took over 170 photos on my day out and I’ll be uploading the best of them to my Facebook page for those who’d like to read/see more but for now I’m going to have to condense all of that into a post for you. I want to give you the perfect idea of what a London Street Art tour is. I want to inspire you to go on one as I was totally blown away by my experience.

London Street Art Tour

What is Street Art?

london street art tour this is not what you think it is

Street art is any art developed in public spaces. The term can include traditional graffiti art work, as well as, stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheatpasting and street poster art, video projection, art intervention, guerrilla art, flash mobbing and street installations. — Google

Street art is anything painted, written or drawn illegally on outside public spaces, also known as vandalism. Street art actually is a whole lot more than that, it is a conversation between like minded artists. It is transient, here today and gone tomorrow. I have understood that the longer your ‘work’ survives without being pasted over, written on and in turn graffiti’ed, the more respected you have from your fellow artists.

london street art love will tear us apart again

Street art is complex, starting with the terminology. The first term I came across was tag or tagging and it was right at the start of our day when we’d barely left Old Street tube station. A tag is the signature you often see sprayed on public buildings, the one you have thought was a ‘mess’ and ruining the environment. It is a mess, it’s like an unreadable scribble on a public wall but to the eyes of street artists, it’s a signature.

london street art tour

What happens when walls of our buildings are attacked by graffiti artists? We send someone in to buff them. That would be scrub them away or cover them in paint. Just try to return the wall to it’s former clean glory.

london street art tour DALeast

Trouble is, no matter how hard they try to clean them up, you can always see a trace. Some street artists enjoy this and for a funny example take a look at Huh Magazine at when MOBSTR tried an experiment on the local authoritites. I must admit I did find this highly amusing.

london street art tour squirrel and tag

Street art includes many forms, it is more than just cans of aerosol used to make funky signatures. There is stencil art, there is wheatpasting art, scultpures, lock on and tiling. All varied ways that street artists leave their marks on walls around the world.

london street art tour

 

In fact this phenomenon, with the helps of artists like Shepard Fairy, Stik and Banksy became acceptable. Their work was displayed in galleries and snapped up for millions of dollars. If Banksy put up a new piece there would be a rush to chip it away and sell it. In fact it became so trendy David Cameron gave a Ben Eine piece to Barack Obama on one of their first meetings.

london street art tour shepard fairey

You may even remember a poster used during the Obama campaign, it was created by a well known street artist Shepard Fairey. He depicted Obama with the word Hope and it was used on the cover of Time magazine. He also created this art work in London (above) which we stopped by to admire, read more on Hooked Blog about the making.

london street art tour Camilla walala

This trend in buying up street art has in turned added a legalised aspect to what was vandalism up until recently. Now there are businesses commissioning work to street artists, having their factories, shops, clubs, restaurants graffiti’ed, with fantastic effect too.

Damien hirst Tramshed restaurant

London has become one of the most pro-graffiti cities in the world and a trip around Shoreditch will show you how well this art form can fit into a busy city, the only problem of course is that as London Street Art tours bring in the punters and money is being spent so is the area becoming more in and trendy, old buildings are being knocked down and swanky new ones are going up which will lead to ‘clean’ streets and less street art.

london street art tour Blackall Street

Street artists don’t stick to one city either, they travel between countries to spread their work. Some artists have gained cult-followings, media and art world attention. There are some top artists displaying work in London from all over the world.

london street art tour

Some of the world’s top Street artists have passed through London and here is a selection of a few around the Shoreditch area.

DALeast
Stik
Gregos
Cityzen Kane
Noriaki
Thierry Noir
D*Face
Shepard Fairey
Invader
Ben Eine
Stinkfish
ROA
Amara Por Dios

london street art tour

Tips for following a London Street Art tour

Allow at least the morning to walk the streets of Shoreditch. The area is vast and continually changing

Look up, look down, look around you, street art is everywhere. Note the mushrooms on the rooftops, the face sculptures inside door crevices and chewing gum art on the pavement. You can even see graffiti inside other graffiti and so the artwork changes and moves on.

Stop off at Cargo for a coffee and admire some of Banksy’s famous artwork.

Street Art to look out for in Shoreditch:

Foundry Building, Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3JL. – Roa’s giant, moody weasel on the doomed Foundry building in Shoreditch.

Tramshed, 32 Rivington St, EC2A 3LX – Mark Hix’s chicken and steak restaurant. Inside and you will find a Damien Hirst cow and chicken in formaldehyde.

Turn the corner onto Garden Walk and you will find the Owl and Black Sabbath lyrics by Dscreet.

Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3NT – JXC’s Morgan Freeman caricature.

Derham Place, EC2A 3HJ. – DALeast’s sprinting leopard splitting apart to reveal a scuba diver in the middle.

Bateman’s Row, EC2A 3HH. – Shepard Fairey, graphic designer and creator of Obama’s iconic Hope campaign poster back in 2008.

Rivington Street, EC2A 3LX – The Piano Man by local street artist Stik.

Cargo Club – Banksy’s Police and Dog and other murals by very talented street artists.

Blackall Street, EC2A. – Alleyway just off Great Eastern Street. Here you will find work from some of the greats, including RUN, Swoon, Alice Pasquini, D7606, Dscreet ,Stik, Pablo Delgado, and Rowdy.

london street art tour

Disclosure: I was invited on the London Street Art tour by Touriocity for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own.

london street art tour

london street art tour

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30 Comments

  1. September 22, 2015 / 10:11 AM

    I’d love to go on a tour like this, with the art explained because I don’t understand it all by any means. I’m going ot look up Tourio and see where else they operate. Thanks!

    • September 22, 2015 / 5:11 PM

      I’d recommend it, I found it fascinating and want to go back to find more now. Once you start digging you discover a bit about it you begin to ‘see’ what it’s all about.

  2. September 22, 2015 / 10:12 AM

    wow Mari this is a really beautiful tour and the art work is stunning, I would love to do this tour!

    • September 22, 2015 / 5:13 PM

      That’s just it, the art work is stunning and here today, gone tomorrow which a lot of people can’t get their head’s around, the artists move on and go and create somewhere else.
      the fact that for the most part it is illegal adds an edge to it too.
      If you get the chance go on a tour.

  3. September 22, 2015 / 10:41 AM

    This tour looks incredible! I would love to do this!

  4. September 22, 2015 / 11:39 AM

    Absolutely amazing photos, I would love to go on a tour of the street art in London like this x

    • September 22, 2015 / 5:14 PM

      It’s fascinating, There are lots of different areas to visit too. Brick Lane might be my next one ;)

  5. Jen
    September 22, 2015 / 2:57 PM

    I know that this is something that my boys and I would love. When we visited Brick Lane to see the Brick Exhibit we saw lots of wonderful street art

    • September 22, 2015 / 5:15 PM

      Brick Lane is next on my list as it’s full of really interesting stuff.

  6. J
    September 22, 2015 / 4:15 PM

    I remember walking past one of these tours a couple of years ago, with a couple of (street) artists who were also showing in a gallery nearby. Being drunk we couldn’t resist a small heckle!

  7. September 22, 2015 / 5:16 PM

    Why doesn’t that surprise me :)
    I want to eat in Tramshed now – have you been? I want to drink in Cargo too. I think we need to organise a night out! Be prepared for my next discussions next time we meet xx

    • J
      September 28, 2015 / 4:42 PM

      I haven’t been in Cargo for years! That used to be a mainstay of my nights out.

      Really want to try Tramshed, the chicken looks hilarious!

      x

  8. September 22, 2015 / 5:37 PM

    What a great article and absolutely beautiful photographs. Marianne, you have really captured the spirit of the Counterculture: London Literati tour!

    It was thrilling exploring the hidden world of street art in East London and the fascinating history of Soho, with you and expert London guide Rob Humphrys. Check out our upcoming tours at http://www.touriocity.com.

    • September 25, 2015 / 5:25 PM

      Thank you for your kind compliments, I have way too many photos to choose from and some I shall be using for a long time to come I think.
      I shall certainly be singing your praises as it was the best tour I’ve ever been on.
      Thank you once again

  9. September 22, 2015 / 9:29 PM

    That tour sounds fascinating. I have always admired Street Art and know a little bit about it but there seems like there’s so much more to know. I didn’t realise there was so much of it around – never mind that there’s tours.

    • September 25, 2015 / 5:26 PM

      Ha I know! I learnt so much and what I have taken in literally scratches the surface. Way more to understand yet and i can’t wait to go again.

    • September 25, 2015 / 5:27 PM

      You are so right Vai, London is like a treasure chest where you keep pulling out surprises, that’s why they say Tired of London, tired of life, I guess?

  10. September 23, 2015 / 3:38 PM

    love the idea of this tour as I’m a huge fan of street art! I’m a bit spoilt in Bristol as there is so much but I love stumbling on new ones! x

    • September 25, 2015 / 5:27 PM

      Ohh Fritha, I really want to get to Bristol one day, I have seen so much talk of it and how it is a gorgeous city. High up on my to do list, that’s for sure.

  11. September 23, 2015 / 9:44 PM

    This is so fascinating and I will have to go and check some out next time I am in London. I love the idea of seeing a city through a different perspective too

    • September 25, 2015 / 5:28 PM

      The thing is, once you know what you’re looking for you’ll start seeing it everywhere, even in your own hometown it’s just before you didn’t know what you were looking at.

  12. September 24, 2015 / 7:12 AM

    It always amazes me how talented some people are. I would love to do this tour

    • September 25, 2015 / 5:29 PM

      I’d love to be able to do art like this! There is some incredible work and it’s such a shame that it is so transient. At least I have my photos :)

  13. September 26, 2015 / 9:16 PM

    Wow what some amazing pieces of art. x

  14. September 28, 2015 / 4:27 PM

    Oh Mari this looks absolutely fabulous. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know about these tours and lived in London for years until we moved to Surrey. I love this side of London, reminds me of the Southbank and the artwork in the skate park that changes from day to day. Wonderful photos, must go and have a nose on your FB page x

  15. September 28, 2015 / 5:08 PM

    This looks fascinating.
    I’ve walked past a couple but never knew anything about them or the artists.

  16. October 6, 2015 / 2:41 PM

    I love the idea of this Mari. It sounds a really different – but brilliant – way to see London. Terrific post.

  17. October 26, 2015 / 12:40 PM

    what a fascinating tour i love art its defintely not graffitti as some may say

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