London has one of the most vibrant and exciting street art scenes in the world. It's always changing, of course, but Greg Key reveals the best places to see the most stunning pieces.
A 300-metre tunnel underneath Waterloo Station, this place is completely and utterly covered in street art. It was made famous by Banksy seven years ago when he held a Festival of Cans there and since then it’s become a legal place to spray – street art, stencil, graffiti; you'll find all different styles under the one roof.
A lot of people go there to practice so it’s almost guaranteed that you will see people spraying there. And you won’t see the same art there from one day to the next. It changes that quickly. Literally, someone will be spraying in the morning and someone will be spraying over it in the evening.
There's so much street art in Brick Lane you can almost treat it like a treasure hunt. Start at the Stolen Space Gallery on the Osbourn Street side and then head towards the markets. Every street on either side has artwork somewhere.
Over on Commercial Street, Toynbee Hall has a beautiful new graffiti portrait where the hair is made from the real ivy creeping down the building. From here follow to Fashion Street towards Brick Lane where you'll find Star Yard, a parking lot between there and Fournier Street. That’s got a lot of paste up.
Hanbury Street is another great street to walk along. That’s where the famous 'Big Rower' wall is. Make sure you go right around the corner and check out the amazing Bicicleta Semfrayo piece. And don't miss Corbet Place. That's where you'll find D-Face and Banksy's car (legend has it they crashed into each other) and the giant 3D 'bow' up on a wall and the 'arrows' it fired, a couple of hundred metres away. Back on Brick Lane, drop into Monty's Bar. Lots of artists go there and everything inside the place is street art.
Just where crosses the railway, turn right down Pedley Street (amazing piece by Fanakapan on the right) to the Nomadic Street Garden. It's getting better all the time – more furniture, workshops, people painting, It's where they held the last Meeting of Styles.
Shoreditch and Brick Lane merge into each other, but there is so much art here I recommend doing it separately. Starting at Boxpark, the pop up mall made from shipping containers, head up Great Eastern Street where you'll see the Shoreditch Art Wall on the left hand side. Generally you see graffiti street art here but sometimes there is paid advertising done in a street art fashion. Currently it’s got a beautiful Amara por Dios piece, sponsored by Sony, done in UV paint.
Like Brick Lane, there is art on most of the streets. On Holywell Lane, Village Underground have a big wall that changes over every few months. Up on Leonard Street check out the Pure Evil gallery, then head into Ravey Street, where there's more hoardings around building work as well as in between Blackall and Willow Street. A lot of people practice on the Blackall side and you’ll see a lot of letters on the back end of the street.
For big names, head to Rivington Street. You’ve got your Banksys in there. You’ve also got Ben Eine, Stinkfish, Cranio, and Rolla. Bang for your buck, it's the best street in the area. Boundary Street will take you back to Boxpark, but make sure you drop by Redchurch Street. It has a lot of art on both sides by Jim Vision, Nathan Bowen, Shepard Fairy, Mr Cenz and Aylo.
This is my Creation by Pang (Speckles76)
A very industrial area, with a very high density of artists living in warehouse space there, Hackney Wick is just smashed with art. Having said that, you need to know where you're going. You can't just wander aimlessly like in Brick Lane or Shoreditch. You'll just get lost.
Coming out of Hackney Wick Station you’ve got two choices. You can either go to the right, down Wallis Road and go towards the 90 Bar, which is another great bar with lots of street art inside. There’s a big beautiful mural that has just been painted by Martin Ron Murales on Wallis Street too.
The real action, however, is on Fish Island. To get there, turn left as you come out of the station and head down White Post Lane. You'll see art all along there, right down to the river and Crate Brewery. Follow the River Lee Navigation to Fish Island where you'll find a lot of stuff by Sweettooth. He has just gone mad down there.
Bream Street, Dace Road, Smeed Road, Stour Road, all in that little Fish Island. You'll also find art by, Himbad, Ali Hamish, Tim Chris, 616, Pang, The Real Dill and Nemo and lots of big names – Hackney Wick is one of those areas where artists go to practice new pieces.
We can’t forget Camden. There used to be a hell of a lot if street art there, but as the area gets redeveloped a lot of it is going. So be quick!
I suggest starting from Mornington Crescent and head up Camden Road. Walk along the left hand side until you get to the Beatrice pub – there’s an alleyway there that is stunning, with about 10 big pieces all told. Came back out to Camden Road and carry on walking towards Camden Markets. Walk up to Jamestown Road and have a little look at the lovely piece by Gnasher Murals (?) on the left there.
Back on Camden Road, head over the lock and past teh Stables until you come to Hawley Street on the right. Go into Hawley Mews, there’s a lot of very good artists on that wall there. Hartland Road nearby has a stunning Dan Kitchener, the Tokyo rainy night scene, that is really impressive. It's one of those pieces that you’ve just got to stand back and just take it all in. Trust Icon, Amara poor Dios, Gnasher Murals, Irony, Cranio, Señor X, Vanesa Longchamp, Nomad Clan, Captain Kris, all have stuff around here. If you carry on up towards Chalk Farm, just on the left, you'll find a huge Kobra mural which is super impressive.
NB: Brixton, Peckham, Dulwich, Whitecross Street, Hackney Road, Walthamstow, Brockley, Croydon and Ladbroke Grove other places worth visiting.
Greg Key is the organiser of Underhand, an underground street art show featuring the work of 25 of the finest street artists from around the world. It is running from 10-21 September 2015 at the @BSMTSPACE in Dalston. For more information visit the event's Facebook page.You can also follow Greg's adventures in London street art on Instagram @Speckles76.