Art on the streets of East London

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Image: Corey Samuel

East London is one of the city’s main cultural areas and a popular place for young people and artists, especially those who use the streets as their working space.

From the great Banksy that has become the world’s biggest street artists to more amateur painters, the streets of Soreditch, Spitafields or Brick Lane have some of London’s most amazing street art, or as it’s popularly called, graffitis. For artists such as Hack, which display their paintings around this area East London is a “creative quarter”. It hasn’t been like this for long and it won’t be like this forever, Hack as many other artists believes that “When the creative quarter moves the popular place to paint will move with it”

While the East is still the headquarters of graffiti artists Alternative London Tours (ALT) guide you through the area as if it’s a museum, showing visitors the city’s street art nucleus.

Alternative London Tours are organised and guided by local artists who have their paintings displayed on some of the walls. In the second hour, audiences can observe pieces of work by more than 50 different artists. The price of a tour is “pay as you like”, as guides say the city provides the show and they just give the explanation, so attendees should decide how much money they should pay.

They aim to educate on the graffiti culture, creating awareness of their artistic value and making understand the difference between art and vandalism. This type of art should be displayed in places where it’s accepted, which is the main reason why East London has become a center for it instead of being more spread around the city. Hack from experience considers that he will never “paint anywhere other than places graffiti artists and street artists paint”.

An option that ALT offer is a four-hour workshop every Saturday that gives you the opportunity to create your own graffiti. All materials are provided, as well as help from experts. Unlike the tour, this activity has a set price of £15.

This is London’s oldest street art tour and it was awarded a certificate of excellence by Trip Advisor in 2011. Other reviews have described it as a “changing and evolving experience” and a “compulsory visit” for those who go to East London.

The tours are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12pm to 7pm, and Saturdays from 12pm to 3pm, with Liverpool Street Station the starting point.

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