Street art is alive and well in London’s Brick Lane. Although there is certainly some street art which I might just call graffiti, most of it is definitely art. Everywhere you look you can find posters, sculptures and murals – some of which are more subtle than others. Although the street art in Brick Lane (and everywhere) is constantly changing, I want to give you a taster of what to expect on a Brick Lane street art tour!
Where is Brick Lane & Why is it a Street Art Hub?
Brick Lane is the heart of alternative London, it’s a part of Shoreditch in East London which was traditionally an extremely poor area, filled with slums stretching from Whitechapel where the infamous Jack the Ripper committed horrific murders.
Later it became a home for thousands of immigrants who have flocked here over the years. Thanks to this immigration, Brick Lane has become a unique part of London, a blend of cultures and nationalities all coming together.
Street art became a way for the people here to express themselves, and although graffiti is still illegal in the UK, street artists in and around Brick Lane seem to be getting away with it quite happily!
Brick Lane Street Art Tours
I took a free Brick Lane street art tour with wombat’s Hostel London, which gave me a good taster of the street art in Brick Lane, then I explored further to find more pieces on my own.
I think if I went again I would pay for a street art tour with a specialist guide, as although our wombat’s guide was friendly and showed us a few great pieces, we spent quite a lot of time talking about what each individual piece meant instead of walking around and seeing more art.
These are some of the highly rated Brick Lane street art tours on GetYourGuide:
Alternatively, if you prefer to explore on your own then just walk around Brick Lane and Shoreditch to see some awesome examples of street art in London.
Where to Find the Best Street Art in London around Brick Lane
Brick Lane Street Art
A walk down Brick Lane will show you various artworks as you stroll along. I started at the junction with the A11 next to the Whitechapel Art Gallery and walked up under the train bridge and to the Beigel Shop and outdoor market. I would recommend going on a Sunday as there are outdoor markets and street food stalls all over the place.
Brick Lane is also a great place to pick up some retro clothes – I got a gorgeous flamingo skirt from one of the stalls which I was very happy with!
On the wall behind the Vietnamese restaurant at 50 Fashion Street is (hopefully still!) a touching piece by Jimmy C, who uses a style of aerosol pointillism, spraying dots of paint to create his work. I have seen his work on the other side of the Thames too, in a Shakespeare Mural on Clink Street.
Further down we spotted some beautiful murals of women including one by Dreph whose work I love as it is so colourful and powerful.
Alleyway off Brick Lane
I can’t think of another way to describe this, but when you see if you’ll know what I mean! It’s basically an alleyway which opens up into a car park, between Fashion Street and Fournier Street on the left-hand side if you’re walking up Brick Lane. Here the walls are covered in street art posters, paintings and prints. Walk down and see what fun (and political) pieces you can spot!
The Truman Brewery
This old brewery has been transformed into a venue for pop up markets, street food stalls and bars. All around the walls you’ll find colourful art including the famous Banksy Pink Car which is now enclosed in Perspex to ‘preserve’ it – perhaps the most anti-street art thing you can do! Somehow, I managed to not take a photo of this as I was drawn to the colourful opposite wall, so it’s another reason to visit with a guide who will point out the most ‘important’ pieces of art!
This street has some of my favourite street art in Brick Lane. Take a walk down here to see a huge crane by Roa, which now seems to be a permanent fixture here. The other artworks here seem to change regularly but see if the breakdancing Queen’s Guard with his big black bearskin hat is still there!
Don’t stop here though, walk down to the end of the road to see which epic scene is on the large wall on the left. I’ve seen some gorgeous street art murals here and when I went last time it was a safari scene. I also spotted murals with an environmental message, to use less plastic which we should all try to do every day!
Take a stroll up here to see what street art murals decorate the walls; and keep an eye out for small stencils too, not just large murals.
The Train Tracks
Not on the actual train tracks of course, but the walls protecting the train lines have provided the ideal canvas for street artists to create beautiful pieces of art which they can take time to work on. If you walk down here, don’t miss the Nomadic Community Garden.
Nomadic Community Gardens
UPDATE: Unfortunately Nomadic Community Gardens closed at the end of 2019. You can check out their Facebook page to see if they have found a new site to open another Nomadic Garden.
The Nomadic Community Gardens deserve a special mention when talking about Brick Lane Street art. Although the gardens aren’t actually on Brick Lane, you’ll find them alongside the train tracks, in what used to be a derelict space.
The founders of the gardens wanted to turn the unused area into a garden for the community, a place where local people can come and plant flowers and vegetables, have a coffee and work on creative projects in the open air. And they’ve done just that!
There is plenty of street art here, although technically not on the street, the art that has been created here and the community spirit is just as important. On a sunny day, it’s a lovely area to come and hang out, but unfortunately, I arrived just as it was starting to rain, so I didn’t stay very long. I will be back.
Explore the Brick Lane Street Art at Your own Pace
As well as all of these streets and artworks I’ve mentioned, there were plenty more pieces of street art in Brick Lane and the surrounding streets. I basically went down every street and kept my eyes open for hidden gems and tiny details.
From colourful broccoli to statements on politics and society as a whole, I love spotting street art wherever I go. So take a street art tour to learn about the artists or just wander around to see some cool graffiti murals and more.
Where to Stay in London
As #wombatsTraveller ambassador I stayed at the awesome wombat’s Hostel in London. I love this place, it has become my second home and I stay there every time I’m in London, whether I’m working with wombat’s or not! You can check out my full review of wombat’s LONDON or go to their website directly to book.
It’s in a perfect location to explore Brick Lane, just 10 minutes’ walk away, as well as being close to Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and Tower Gateway underground station. You can book dorm beds or private rooms, add a tasty breakfast and have a drink in the famous womBAR – so for me, it is the best place to stay in London!
What’s your favourite piece of Brick Lane Street Art? Would you take a street art tour in Shoreditch and Brick Lane or do you prefer to wander around and explore for yourself? I’d love to hear what you think, please leave your comments below.
If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to England, get a quote now from World Nomads.
You may also like these London posts:
Or click here to read all of my United Kingdom blog posts.
Like this post? Pin it to read later:
Just to let you know, this post may contain paid or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you!
Tales of a Backpacker is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.Last updated: April 21, 2020