The Alternative London Walking Tour introduces you to street art around London’s Spitalfields, Brick Lane and Shoreditch area. While the focus is on street art, you’ll learn a lot about the historical background (as far back as the Huguenots!) and the social issues affecting the Brick Lane community today, particularly the Bangla community who live and work there. You’ll also get to see the Nomadic people’s park (if you go soon as it won’t be there forever) and the Spitalfields community farm.
The tour is free but you pay a donation based on what you think it’s worth.(I paid ten pounds, money well spent.)
The guides themselves are street artists from the area which accounts for the passion and energy of our guide, Josh Jeavons. Josh gave us an insightful and engaging overview of a culture, a community and the values that drive (and sometimes divide) street artists in the East End community.
Expect to learn something about art, anarchy, authority and (what some might see as) the policing of art. While Josh’s tour was strong on facts and information, it was really enriched by his own personal insights and interpretations.
It’s impossible to distil the wealth of information and insight gained on this tour, not that I’d want to – that’s what the tour is for! You’ve just got to do it but I will share some of the highlights.
Iconic artists include:
Gregos and moulds of his own face on walls. Gregos’s work is approved by the city council. Not everyone likes the idea of the council policing street art and deciding what the public is allowed to see.
Stik and his stick people.
Space Invader – has major kudos because he has never, ever asked for permission to paint on any surface. Use your binoculars to see his space invader at the very back of the lane.
Richard Birdseed – teapot penises and such!
I can’t recommend this tour enough – big thank you to Erica and Laura for taking me here.