Updated post: 09/08/2019 | August 2019
Perhaps you are visiting London and have been dazzled by the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, wowed by the British Museum’s vast collection and have paid your respects to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Where next? Well, why not venture east to Brick Lane see a very different side of the city?
Brick Lane wasn’t always the visitor magnet it is nowadays. A work colleague who lived in the area when he first moved to London tells of evading muggers on its rubbish-strewn, rodent-riddled streets. Twenty-odd years later, it is booming with chic cafes, curry houses, vintage clothes shops and cutting-edge art galleries.
And Brick Lane is also the epicentre of street art in London. Building walls, hoardings, doors and shop shutters form the canvas for frequently-changing artworks. These creations assume many forms, from massive murals to small paintings to stickers and posters.
To whet your appetite, here’s a short video of Brick Lane’s street art highlights!
Exploring street art in Brick Lane
As East London is so rich in street art, it can be difficult to know where to start. This walk, which focuses on streets that are artistic hotspots, should take you around two hours. Exactly how much time you spend depends on how much exploring you decide to do and if you stop in one of the area’s many cafes.
It starts at Old Street station and finishes at Aldgate East station. For help with getting around London, head to the Transport for London website.
Street art in Brick Lane: Walking tour map
As the artworks are ever-changing, don’t expect to find all of the art featured here when you visit. Hoardings are torn down, artists come and artists go. But part of the fun is making exciting new finds.
From the Old Street station, take exit 2 and walk a few minutes along Old Street, towards Shoreditch. Then turn left into Rivington Street. Although there is plenty of street art to admire along Rivington Street, the star turn is a Banksy just inside the Cargo beer garden.
When you reach the end of Rivington Street, turn right onto Shoreditch High Street and continue along this main road until you reach Bethnal Green Road. Here you turn left and then bear right into Sclater Street. Pass by the cool Rebel Alliance Motorcycle Company, and take in the artwork until you reach Brick Lane.
Take a slight detour by turning left into Brick Lane to reach the 24-hour bagel shops at this end of the street. These are a testament to the once-thriving Jewish community who arrived here in the late 19th Century. Make sure you pick up a freshly made filled bagel. At £2 for a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel (cash only), it is likely to be the cheapest lunch you will have in London.
Munching on your fresh bagel, walk back along Brick Lane for three or four minutes and then turn left into Grimsby Street. Carry on along this street, admiring the art on the way, until it you reach Cheshire Street. Then turn left to head back to Brick Lane.
Continue along Brick Lane until you reach Hanbury Street on your left. Once associated with the murders of Jack the Ripper, this is now one of the top spots for street art in Brick Lane. The well-known large Pelican mural by ROA has been there since 2010. If you are ready for a cup of coffee by this stage, I recommend The Canvas Cafe on this street
Heading back onto Brick Lane, Princelet Street is your next street on the left. Take a look down here for further artworks.
Seven Stars car park
When you are finished in Princelet Street, continue along Brick Lane and you will reach an alleyway on your right-hand side that will take you into the Star Yard car park. This is one of the top locations for street art in Brick Lane, attracting the very best artists and with a high turnover of content.
Retracing your steps, continue along Brick Lane until you reach Fashion Street on your right-hand side. Once home to some of London’s worst slums, this road connects Brick Lane and Commercial Street. Nowadays, it is home to some great street art.
You have now reached the end of your Brick Lane street art walking tour. At the end of Fashion Street, turn left and continue along Commercial Street until you reach Aldgate East station.