Camden is the king of street art, with huge painted murals several storeys high adorning many rundown buildings. It’s become so popular that you can even go on tours around the neighbourhood where local experts will point out all the famous frescos. One well-known resident is Bambi, often dubbed ‘the female Banksy’, with her Amy Winehouse portrait a Camden landmark. Keep your eyes peeled around Hawley Street, Castlehaven Road, Kentish Town Road and Chalk Farm Road, and, of course, don’t forget to Instagram the much-loved Camden Lock sign above Camden Market.
As one of the trendiest areas in London, it’s no surprise that Shoreditch is overflowing with street art. Over the years, the neighbourhood has become a popular canvas for artists such as Stik, ROA, Sweet Toof and Ben Eine, but you’ll have to be quick to snap a pic; the artwork here changes almost every day. Stroll down Rivington Street where you’ll find an original Banksy in the Cargo Club, while the nearby Great Eastern Street, Cremer Street and Shoreditch High Street are other hotspots. The best place to see international artist Stik’s iconic graffs is on Princelet Street, although you’ll spot these friendly stick people popping up all around the city.
Considered to birthplace of the London street art scene, Brick Lane is a colourful mishmash of different styles. If you’ve only got limited time and are dying to see some urban art, make sure Brick Lane is on the top of your list. Artists from all around the world come to tag the Brick Lane walls – there’s Jay Kaes’ sci-fi mural on Pendley Street, a tropical shirt-wearing character by Ricky Also on the same street, and French artist Zabou’s brightly coloured portraits on Grimsby Street. Keep going further along Brick Lane, and you’ll come to Seven Stars Yard, an old car park that has been taken over by graphic art. It constantly changes but no matter when you go, you’re guaranteed to see some of the best urban artwork around.
A little bit further out than the street art heavyweights of Shoreditch and Brick Lane, Hackney also has its own collection of both commissioned and non-commissioned pieces. Look out for paintings by French artist Thierry Noir on Wallis Road, the Save The Bees project by Louis Masai and Jim Vision in the Hackney Road car park, and the redecorated Lord Napier pub on White Post Lane, on the corner across from Hackney Wick Station.
Surprisingly, swanky Soho in the middle of London has its own street art following. Rather than huge wall-wide murals though, the art here is more discreet – think mini-sculptures, tiled Invader frescos and contemporary installations. Look out for the iconic ‘Seven Noses of Soho’, a collection of small plaster noses sticking out from walls. They were created back in 1997 as a criticism of the increasing CCTV cameras in the area, although there are many urban legends surrounding their installation. One such myth is that he who finds all the noses will receive great wealth! How many have you sniffed out?
Head over the river to discover some seriously impressive street art in South London. While Southbank may be better known for its world-class cultural institutions such as the National Theatre and the Tate Modern, it’s also home to an alternative art world. The Southbank Skatepark has long been the stomping ground for underground artists who used spray cans to fight back against Southbank developers. It’s since become an attraction in its own right, with tourists flocking to take photos of the colourful ramps. Another must-see is the Leake Street Tunnel behind Waterloo station. This 200m-long stretch has hosted street art events run by Banksy himself as well as the prestigious Cans Festival. It’s also worth checking out Southbank Centre, who regularly commission big-name artists to decorate their walls, walkways and stairs.
Brixton’s most celebrated artwork is probably the David Bowie mural-turned-memorial where fans come to pay their respects and leave flowers after the music legend’s untimely passing. Brixton Skate Park is another street art hotspot – it became famous with the Save Brixton Arches campaign where street artists used the space to create a visual protest against the area’s gentrification. Nowadays, the skate park’s walls are regularly updated with new tags from up-and-coming illustrators. From Brixton, you can also visit the Hall of Fame outdoor art gallery at Stockwell Park Estate – once a community basketball court, it’s now covered in ever-changing frescos.
Croydon is the latest London suburb to get in on the street art action. Trend-setting developers have actually called upon some of the big names in graffiti to ask them to decorate walls and buildings in Croydon, with local art gallery RISE, which has hosted works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Banksy, leading the way in making Croydon the new street art capital. While the area is still finding its feet, you can see emerging artists’ works dotted around St George’s Walk, The Arcade, Surrey Street and the Queen’s Gardens.