I used to be a West London girl – the streets of Hammersmith, Shepherd’s Bush and Ladbroke Grove being my stomping grounds. Rarely, if ever, did I venture East. So, when I moved back down to London after a few years bouncing around various countries, and found myself living East side, I stumbled across a brave new world. Sure, the vibe’s different over this way (to say the least), but one of the best ongoing discoveries of the area is the street art, particularly around Shoreditch.
East London is an arty area. There are an abundance of warehouses made up of shared artists studios that produce an abundance of creativity at every turn. Graphic artists mingle with photographers, bloggers break bread with fashion designers – there’s constant collaboration between disciplines, producing great work.
Shoreditch’s proximity to the financial district has seen street art in the area go through an interesting transition. On the one hand, graffiti is still considered a criminal activity, on the other, large organisations and businesses are commissioning artists to paint murals on the outside of their buildings.
The area itself has become like its own gallery. The mix of open space, warehouses, car parks and office buildings provide the perfect canvas and in an area populated by creatives who can appreciate it, there’s no better place to show your art. Walk around there for ten minutes and you’re sure to find any number of photographers capturing the latest tags.
From Curtain Road to Great Eastern Street and every alley in between, we’re seeing traditional graf mix with sketches done on paper pasted up (very popular in the Berlin street art scene too), stencils, murals and more to create a really interesting blend of styles, which represent our place and time perfectly. Better still is that it’s constantly changing – it’s a particular joy to see a new piece pop up on a familiar route.
One thing’s for sure – as the community changes and the ebb and tide of different artists move through, it’ll be interesting to see how the scene progresses. Especially with all the focus on East London this summer, now’s the time for a new wave of street artists to make their stamp on the area. I’ll definitely be one of the ones with my lens focused in, documenting the new arrivals at every turn.