Any casual visitor to the city wanting to find a high quality selection of street art should look no further than a tour of Brick Lane. It is the epicentre of street art in the city. Artists from all over the world and the UK come here to paint. Safe in the knowledge that they will get an appreciative audience and a wide appeal.
This tour of Brick lane is designed for the casual visitor. Someone who just wants to catch a glimpse of some decent street art in one of London’s trendiest areas. There’s another more in depth post about the area here.
Start of Tour – Aldgate East tube station (Hammersmith and City and District lines)
End of Tour – Shoreditch High Street station (London Overground)
Length of Tour – 1-2 hours, dependent on how much pottering around you do.
Start the tour of Brick Lane from the tube station exit via the ‘Whitechapel Gallery‘ side and turn left at the top of the steps. Head towards the junction with Osborne Street and turn left. Carry on past the Stolen Space gallery until you reach Brick Lane directly ahead. Keep going until you reach Heneage Street on the right.
On Heneage Street there is a quaint little pub called the Pride of Spitalfields. It’s one of the only pubs left off Brick Lane and it’s still retains a lot of charm. Walk down the street until you come to a little playground. Look around and on the gable end of a row of buildings an impressive giant mural from Sheffield based artist Phlegm can be seen. On your way back to Brick Lane keep your eyes peeled for other street art you can spot.
Seven Stars Yard
Almost opposite the entrance to Heneage Street is the entrance to a little yard known as the Seven Stars. Named after the pub which used to be on the site. Through the little alley you’ll be able to see some of the best paste up art in the city. Then in the yard itself it opens up into a space where a number of street art pieces can be seen. Towards the left hand side of the yard there are areas of wall which take the appearance of street canvasses.
On the right hand side an 18th century building which dates from Huguenot times. That building used to be the home of the innkeeper of the old Seven Stars pub. Well before the current building was erected in the 1930’s, a much older Huguenot building had existed. Although much of the art in the Yard is permissioned. Any art on the side of the old innkeepers house is not given its heritage status.
Back on Brick Lane continue the tour and head past the Brick Lane mosque. Then head towards Princelet Street. There look to the left and within a doorway can be seen a work by Stik. Called ‘A couple holding hands’ it is about community cohesion. Recently this piece was included in a list of the Top 20 favourite pieces of British artworks.
Incidentally Princelet Street is also the former centre of the Huguenots. They settled in the East End from France in the 1700s. The houses here are from this era and are quite unusual and worthy of greater exploration. If you are interested in the history of this area then try this free Walking Tour of the East End of London. This covers the history in a bit more detail.
But for now we head back to Brick lane until we reach Hanbury Street. Turn left and you get straight into the heart of Spitalfields, right takes you into the heart of Whitechapel. This street is awash with art particularly along its length towards Spitalfields. For this tour though we are only interested in the art to the immediate right. Look down towards Whitechapel and dominating the view will be the giant Crane by Belgian artist ROA. This is another well loved community piece.
The Truman Brewery
Continue down Brick Lane past the Truman Brewery. This section gets particularly busy during the weekend. The Truman Brewery is an excellent place for a detour should you want to take one. The yard at the back of the building can be accessed via Brick Lane. It is usually very vibrant with plenty of street art.
Continue along Brick Lane until you come to the entrance to Pedley Street on the right. It’s only an alley at this point leading towards a park known as Allen Gardens. Walk down towards the park and you’ll see plenty of works. The building on the left covered in street art is actually the old Shoreditch station. Beyond thsi the space opens up and you’ll be able to see a lot of graffiti covered walls. From this spot you’ll also be able to see the entrance to the former Nomadic Community Gardens just underneath the bridge. Sadly these are no longer open.
Grimsby Street and Cheshire Street
In order to visit the streets of Grimsby and Cheshire you need to double back. Once on Brick Lane take the next right into Grimsby Street. Walk to the end and then walk back along Cheshire Street. It takes you back to pretty much where you started. Both streets will often have some good pieces to see and so it’s worth having an explore.
Upon returning to Brick Lane cross the road and head up Sclater Street. The spot was once a real hub for street art. However now it’s become a real target for the developers. You can still see some great spots though. Directly in front of you will be an old looking warehouse building with lots of hidden gems on it. Beyond the warehouse Sclater Street carries on and the street is full of art. Have a wander along and then head back taking the little spur along Cygnet Street towards Bacon Street.
Bethnal Green Road
Once at Brick Lane continue the tour by turning left. Then walk to the main road junction with Bethnal Green Road. This section of the lane is full of coffee bars. As such is a good place to find some refreshment. It’s also a good place to come when the shops are shut. A lot of the art here has been painted on shutters. These only come down when the businesses have packed up for the day.
At the junction turn left and walk along Bethnal Green Road. It is likely that you’ll be able to spot some street art on the other side of the road. This marks the start of Redchurch Street. Continue down and you’ll come to the junction of Sclater Street. This is also where the Shoreditch High Street Station is. This is where the tour ends.