A street art walk around Brick Lane, London

Art galleries and kids tend not to mix that well. Combining priceless art works and contemplative visitors with exuberant kids certainly makes me a little uneasy. Fortunately we found that street art is a great alternative when we enjoyed a great day out spotting it in London.

Street art without permission is illegal, and I wouldn’t condone it in inappropriate places, but in the right context it can enhance an area and attract visitors. One such place where it works really well is in and around Brick Lane, London.

We decided to go on a family street art walk from Aldgate East tube station to Shoreditch Overground station. As well as art on Brick Lane you’ll find plenty on the streets either side of the main thoroughfare and around Shoreditch station. Although some pieces are relatively long lived, the nature of street art is that it changes constantly. We came across some new street art being created in a rather forlorn car park off Brick Lane.

Creating new street art
Creating new street art, just off Brick Lane

Most people will immediately think of Banksy when asked to name a street artist. Once you start your street art hunt you’ll realise just how many other artists there are. Two of our favourites were Jonesy and Stik. Stik paints simple stick like figures, whilst Jonesy creates brass sculptures as well as paintings with an environmental message.

There are various styles of street art, and we saw most types during our walk. This giant hedgehog is by Belgian artist, Roa, and adorns an entire wall. Whilst he is renowned for his large animal murals, other artists may specialise in stencils, wheatpaste or posters. Even yarn bombing is a type of street art and examples adorn lamp posts in our local village. Interestingly, this is technically as illegal as graffiti!

Giant hedgehog, Chance Street (ROA)
Giant hedgehog, Chance Street (ROA)

Brick Lane has an interesting history. As its name suggests it was originally a centre of brick and tile manufacturing. Over the years it has seen successive waves of immigrants, with two of the most notable groups being the French Huguenots in the 17th century and more recently the Bangladeshis. The Huguenots established weaving in the area, whilst the Bangladeshis have led to this area being called the curry capital of the UK.

We didn’t stop for a curry but we did pick up a cheap lunch in another Brick Lane institution, the Beigel Shop. This bakery vies with another a couple of doors down to sell the best salt beef bagel but being a vegetarian I’m not able to comment on who wins. My son certainly enjoyed his smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel though!

Beigel shop, Brick Lane
Beigel shop, Brick Lane

More info:

  • The nearest tube station is Aldgate East. Brick Lane is signposted and about a 5 minute walk from the tube.
  • Brick Lane is probably most famous for its Sunday market. I would suggest visiting on an alternative day if you’re street art spotting as the area gets incredibly crowded.
  • Give your kids a camera so they can snap the art they enjoy. My daughter took loads of photos!

26 thoughts on “A street art walk around Brick Lane, London”

  1. One of the first things I want to do when we go back to UK is take my kids exploring for street art in London. This is brilliant to know where to take them to see some. I’m a big fan of Banksy but want to show them diverse street artists. Have to pin this!

    1. Thanks Kriss. My daughter has been learning about Banksy at school so this was the inspiration for going to look for street art. I was really impressed at the variety and quality of the art we found.

  2. Never thought of doing that – I say with complete shame. I love art. My boys love streets and hate art galleries. We all love bagels 🙂
    What a great idea I absolutely HAVE to try! Thanks!

    1. Thanks Orli, glad you like the idea. The kids had great fun keeping their eyes out for the art (not that it’s hard to spot), they really enjoyed it.

  3. The hedgehog is definitely my fave too. I agree totally that street
    art in the right setting can really enhance a place.

    1. Thanks Lou, the street art works really well around Brick Lane. A lot of the shop owners have their shutters painted too (on purpose) but as most of them were open when we visited we missed out on these.

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