Possibly the most famous location in the UK to find street art and graffiti. Brick Lane is synonymous with the street art and graffiti scene in London. From Whitechapel to Shoreditch it runs up through the heart of the East End. It’s streets leading off towards Spitalfields in the west and Bethnal Green in the east all have their stories to tell.
Brick Lane has been at the heart of the East End since before the East End was a thing. So called because it was down this old track that bricks from the old brick works running along its length would be transported to build the burgeoning environs of London. It’s a street full of character. Layers of history lap over one another hinting at it’s past as a home for immigrants. It’s many different architectural styles tell a story of a place which has never stopped evolving.
Street Art on Brick Lane
In terms of street art and graffiti on Brick Lane, you’ll find plenty along it’s length. Keep a look out for paste ups and stickers in particular. You’ll get the most concentration in the area between Buxton Street and Bethnal Green Road where the railway bridge crosses over.
The Lane has also long been a destination location. International street artists aspire to paint here whilst the locals keep it vibrant. There is a strong core of artists who are constantly adding to its historic brick walls. Much of the work that changes on a weekly basis is courtesy of these local creatives.
The home of the Pride of Spitalfields a rare authentic boozer in an area which is swiftly being overrun with trendy eateries. A bit further past can be found the 5th Base gallery space where currently a large balloon mural from Fanakapan can be seen. Opposite overlooking a playground there is also a long standing piece from Phlegm.
Formally called Fossan Street it’s name gradually evolved over time to Fashion though nobody really knows why or when. From Brick Lane it leads towards Commercial Street in Spitalfields. You’ll be able to spot a few smaller pieces along it’s length. At the end nearer to Spitalfields as well, some nice paste ups and stencils can be seen.
Seven Stars Yard
A yard at the back of a former pub which was called the Seven Stars. The alley leading towards the yard is brimming with paste ups, there is always something new. Once at the back it opens up into a bit of a gallery with street art painted amongst the skeletal remnants of an exposed interior wall.
Home to a famous and long standing piece from local artist Stik. His piece called ‘A couple holding hands in the street’ has become a favourite in the local area because of it’s message around social cohesion. Near to the Stik you’ll also see other smaller works. Further down and Princelet is blessed with some fine looking Huguenot buildings.
Cutting across Brick Lane, Hanbury Street heads towards Spitalfields Market and the Truman Brewery entrance in the West and Whitechapel in the east. Along it’s length you will be able to see plenty of street art. You will also be able to see what is possibly the areas most famous mural, a giant crane by the Belgian artist ROA. The intersection between Brick Lane and Hanbury Street is possibly one of the most famous locations for street art murals in the world.
You can access the Truman Brewery either from Brick Lane or from Hanbury Street. Once in you will find a large area of open space called Elys Yard. There are street art pieces from some of the worlds biggest name artists. Works from Vhils, Shepard Fairey and Banksy all rubbing shoulders with each other. Ronzo’s credit crunch monster dating from 2008 also overlooks the yard whilst chewing on a giant coin. Across the road you can also access the area of the cooperage though sometimes it is closed to the public. Here you can see works from Ben Eine, Conor Harrington and D*Face.
Grey Eagle Street
Not quite on Brick Lane but near enough. Grey Eagle Street is directly behind the Truman Brewery and pretty much an access road. A number of the buildings here are derelict and this street more than many others has had a poor recent history as a location for drugs and prostitution. Now it’s cleaned up a bit but still looks grotty. There’s a lot of graffiti here and there can be some good street art pieces. It’s probably best known as the location for the Invader, Shepard Fairey and Ronzo pieces that can be seen from the yard of the Truman Brewery.
One of the best paste up walls in the area, the walls on the intersection of Buxton and Brick Lane brim with art. Walk down Buxton Street a little further and you’ll come to Allen Gardens, an open bit of parkland separating the area from Whitechapel. An alley also cuts through the back of some social housing towards Pedley Street accessed via Buxton but which then runs parallel to Brick Lane. You will often find some good pieces of street art in the alley itself.
A suprisingly long street, Pedley Street is actually more like a path. Running from Brick Lane towards the east it actually leads through Allen Gardens, underneath the railway bridge and along the side of the former Nomadic Community Garden. The wall on the KinKao restaurant closest to Brick Lane is an iconic one. Sought after as a location to paint the art here doesn’t last long but it’s usually good quality and desired by artists. Towards the gardens meanwhile the art here takes on much more of a graffiti feel.
These days, more of a graffiti space. There are many walls that run around the gardens which are now filled with pieces, the area having become a hall of fame. The main walls run along the railway line at either side both by the Nomadic Community Garden on one side and Allen Gardens on the other. A strip of waste ground by the old Shoreditch Railway Station is also a popular spot and graffiti writers can often be seen painting there.
Running along from Brick Lane towards Shoreditch High Street station. Sclater Street has seen extensive development yet still it retains some of the best street art walls in the area. Of particular note have a look at the old weaver houses, the walls of which are covered with trinkets, paste ups and graffiti. A giant monkey head from Mighty Mo has been painted on the side and that looks out towards Brick Lane.
A short cobbled street which runs along the side of the railway line up towards Cheshire Street. It contains one of the best paste up walls in the area. Work there is ever changing with pieces from different artists popping up frequently. Further along there is also a long standing piece from Stik which shows two figures shouting at each other.
Fast becoming known for it’s boutique fashion shops, Cheshire Street used to be at the heart of the gritty Brick Lane market. No more though, now the market is a pale imitation of what it once was and Cheshire Street is trying to re-invent itself. There are smattering of pieces of art along the street with the highest concentration by the junction with Brick Lane. However Cheshire Street also leads on to Grimsby Street and you can go a little further and take the graffiti covered bridge over the railway lines towards Pedley Street. That particular bridge is a haven for both crack addicts and fashion photographers alike.
Another street where the Brick Lane market would dominate in years gone by. Now Bacon Street is more of a cut through from Brick Lane towards Sclater Street and the new developments which have engulfed it over recent years. You can still see some street art here though. Of note have been the portraits of Charlie Burns, known locally as the king of Bacon Street. Many artists have depicted him over the years on the front of the house where he used to live.
Monty’s Bar, Brick Lane
Towards the end of Brick Lane near Bethnal Green Road can be found Monty’s. It’s a bar which has become known in recent years as a street art hangout. The walls of the bar are covered in street art and it is often the location for pop up shows featuring work by local artists. Outside you can usually see stickers and smaller street pieces. Over recent years it’s become a focal point of the street art scene in the area.
Brick Lane was visited on 18 January 2020. We’ve written about the lane on a number of occasions. You can do a free self guided tour of the street art here. To see more have a look at these photo essays from 2014 and 2018. To see more from London, Brighton, Bristol, Leicester, Aberdeen, Sheffield and Birmingham click on the links.