The London Street Art and Graffiti Tour: Review


Last Saturday Jeana and I were in London visiting our daughter.  We decided to join a free street art and graffiti tour (we ALWAYS do free tours because we think, rightly or wrongly the guide has to perform well to get their fee-  in our experience they always do).

This was no exception, indeed it was at the top end of the scale.  Of course, you have to have an interest in street art to start with.  I do.

We met at the excellent Exmouth Coffee Company in Whitechapel High Street where we enjoyed a discount.

Our tour guide was Gregory, an accomplished graffiti artist himself, and it was obvious from the off that he knew what he was talking out with very clear explanations of the art of ‘the tag’, the difference between street art and graffiti, the lengths artists have to go to (tagging) to gain a reputation and respect from their peers and then a brilliant tour of tucked away gems in the streets of Tower Hamlets (Brick Lane, Shoreditch and the likes).

It’s a cracking two hours with some real highlights.

Take this beautiful commissioned piece, which began our tour, by comic artist Phlegm who’s based in Sheffield.  It beautifully follows the counters of the wall in which it is painted.

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Gregory told us about the fact that tagging over art like this is called ‘Fame bombing’.

Next up was this tribute to the film ‘Up’ by Fanakapan who specialises in ‘helium’ art.

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We visited the incredible Nomadic Community Garden, near to Shoreditch train station just off Brick Lane with its legal street art and graffiti wall where we saw the brand new work of PAD.

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In the garden we saw some great stuff…

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The Nomadic Community Garden’s feature wall is the highlight, and is ever changing.

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Random stuff in Brick Lane.

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This concrete sculpture by Portuguese artist Vhils is incredible.  He actually carves INTO the concrete to create 3D images that are stunning.IMG_3764_2.jpg

A cheeky wee Banksy.

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This technique is called ‘Pissing’: water bottles are filled with paint and you squeeze them betweeen your legs: it makes for an easy way to paint at height.

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Here we are on our tour beside this great piece by Ben Eine which sticks a finger up to the Shoreditch property developers whose office overlooks this piece (Extortionists).

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Look at how this piece by Long Island spray paint artist BK Foxx uses the jagged bricks of the building to create the hat.  Amazing.IMG_3758_2.JPG

And this Heron/crane by renowned artist Roa is just beautiful.

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And my old mate Clet Abraham is hard at work on London’s street signs.IMG_3761.JPG

We finished the tour at King John Court and New Inn Road at the HQ of Colt where the biggest street art mural in Britain has recently been completed by 16 artists.

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Including this collaboration by Mr Cenz and Lovepusher

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And this piece by Nomad Clan.

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I spotted a few more beauties after the tour was over.

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Banksy. Polemicist or profiteer?


This video appeared in the Guardian this morning and inadvertently made Banksy the butt of extreme liberal criticism for, at best, profiteering from Syrian unrest and, at worst, showing tacit support for Islamic extremism in a country in the midst of turmoil.

On Youtube it has had a different reaction.  Mostly silly political rhetoric or outright praise.

There can be no doubt the end is very reminiscent of Four Lions and I didn’t see that getting a “right on” kicking.

Me, I just thought it was hilarious and I hope you do too.

In the shadow of all the King’s speech “the British are coming” claptrap there are a couple of overlooked gems.


It’s actually an Australian/UK co production driven by the Australian See Saw Productions/Films but I don’t want to be a pedant here.

And it’s pretty good too.

In fact in some ways it has become something of a phenomenon with applause ringing out across the land after each screening.

But it’s not all that is good about British cinema right now.  Putting to one side NEDS let’s focus on two Oscar nominees that I have read not a jot about in the past two weeks; Banksy’s Exit through the Gift Shop which I have yet to see but rates very highly on IMDB and Silvain Chomet’s The Illusionist.

Edinburgh is the star of this delightful movie.

Closely followed by the Highlands of Scotland

Lovely period detail

Whilst I liked The Illusionist more in my heart than my head, the fact that it has garnered an Oscar nomination should not be overlooked.

From a selfish point of view I wish it well because I know the producer, Bob Last, pretty well as he was our landlord when we established my first company, 1576.

It’s a charming, whimsical tale by the director of Belle Ville Rendezvous and it was largely created in Scotland (Edinburgh and Dundee). However it’s deeply disappointing that of the 33 production partner companies listed not one of them is Scottish.  In fact of the 26 funders not one of them is British and yet it was made here.

It only faces two competitors; How to Tame Your Dragon and – bugger – Toy Story 3.

It’s already won best animated movie at The European Film Awards but it’s dissapointing that it did not gain any recognition at The BAFTAs.

Anyway, it’s highly unlikely to beat off Toy Story 3, but maybe we should take a moment on Oscar night to toast Bob and Sylvain.

Cheers chaps.