London has some of the best high culture on offer anywhere in the world; world-class museums, lavish art galleries and fantastic theatres are found all over the city.
However, beneath this veneer of high culture lies a thriving grassroots movement dedicated to street art and graffiti, whose roots are often associated with and derived from the socio-economic struggles within the city itself.
The capital’s true culture is etched into the walls of its buildings, its underground music clubs and its secret art houses. It’s not obvious to everyone, but it’s there if you know where to look.
Nothing reflects this unique aspect of London’s culture more than its beautiful street art. Some of the best graffiti artists in the world travel to the city to make their artwork known on the enormous stage that is the capital.
These are the must-visit areas if you want to see some of the best street art in London.
The Leake Street tunnel
Perhaps the city’s most iconic spot for street art, this old train tunnel has been completely given over to local artists to sport their work. Anybody can paint here, whether you’re Banksy or a total beginner, and the only prize you’ll get is the number of days your work stands for before it gets painted over. It’s a true artistic democracy with some of the city’s best works. The atmosphere is pretty cool, too.
Street art flourishes where people have something to say. There are few places in London where this is more true than Hackney. Run a quick Google search for this fascinating borough and you’ll see titles like ‘Poverty and inequality in Hackney’ mixed in with ‘London’s most liveable area’. It’s this unique mix that has brought about some of the city’s finest works. Look out for some very special pieces like Homerton Hospital’s Sleeping Baby, the portrait of Frida Kahlo and Alex Senna’s beautiful ‘Family’.
Camden is eclectic, eccentric and electric. It’s an anything-can-happen landscape where the streets seem to be buzzing with weirdness. This feeling is inked into its stones with some of the weirdest and most artistic street art in the city. You’ll find interesting pieces dotted around the whole area, from Camden High Street to Camden Lock, Castlehaven Road, and Chalk Farm. Take a tour of the whole area and be sure to check out its many unique locations, such as the Camden Stables.
Although Banksy seems to be homegrown in Bristol, they must have spent at least some time in London. Work in the iconic Banksy style is to be found all over Brick Lane – one of Shoreditch’s hottest hipster spots. Street art in Shoreditch evolved out of the underprivileged history of this industrial area. Today’s stunning artwork is a symbol of the area’s economic rejuvenation and cultural legacy – both of which are proudly grassroots. It’s worth exploring the area not just for the artwork, but simply to soak up the vibes of this fascinating borough.
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