Since hosting the Summer Olympics in 2012, London has welcomed an unprecedented influx of tourists and all sorts of travellers from across the globe. Whilst the city has it’s well known monuments, it’s managed to preserve some of its most well admired street art elements that set it apart from every other city in the world.
From Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, to Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park, to Madame Tussaud’s and London Eye, England’s capital offers more reasons to love it even more. So much so that CNN complied a detailed list of why it’s the greatest city on Earth!. However, behind all the usual destinations and popular attractions, there’s a certain mystique about London that represents a progressive, an avant-garde, not to mention, a distinct form of fascination. We’re talking about the city’s glorious street art scene.
London is brimming with an urban art scene that’s full of life. It’s become sort of a portal to a different side of the capital, one that takes us away from typical spots and into the vast unknown of modern day street artists. Best of all, it’s similar to some museums and parks in such a way that it’s free for everyone to enjoy, ultimately returning Art to the people.
Arguably, one of the most well admired urban artists in the last decade is Banksy. His infamous reputation has seen him work across the World (whilst remaining rooted in London and Bristol), and since working on the Capoeira Twins cover in in 1998, he’s collaborated with (or approved graphic use) for bands such as Blur, One Cut and Talib Kweli, and sold pieces to Diddy, Drake, Swiss Beatz and Angelina Jolie (according to Bronte Dawson of Hex Jam). His signature style features stencilled images of people and animals involved in unexpected behaviour. Some pieces highlight exceptionally political points of view, while others plainly underline a comical theme. One of the greatest examples of course being Weston-Super-Mare’s Dismaland temporary theme park, created as an incredibly dark and twisted version of Disneyland which saw the coastal town inundated with visitors from around the World.
Another recognisable street artist is Stik. Unlike his more mainstream counterparts, he works a bit under the radar, yet his finest pieces can be seen in grandiose areas of London. One of Stik’s creations brings to light something that tugs on the heartstrings of people from all walks of life. Airline passengers who are coming in to land at Heathrow Airport can see his famous Mother and Child piece in Acton, West London. In essence, Stik, along with the likes of Space Invader, Lily Mixe, and Conor Harrington, represent a more underground scene, and ethically minded scene.
Lastly, there’s 3D graff Joe and Max, two innovative urban artists who are known for their huge three-dimension art installation of the Wall from Game of Thrones. Located at Liverpool Street in London, this piece was commissioned by HBO and was released in conjunction with the hit show’s season 3 Blu-Ray and DVD release back in 2014. The cable TV series, as most of us know, is considered one of the best, most influential programs of this generation. It even spawned a board game by Fantasy Flight Games, as well as slot title Game of Thrones 243 Ways to Win which is hosted on digital platform Slingo. Although the realistic street painting lasted for just a day, it remains as a significant piece in London’s street art history.
There will always be more to love about London than just it’s popular tourist hotspots. The key to all of these is to appreciate the city beyond the typical newspaper-worthy destinations and activities. And with a captivating urban art scene to boot, the famous British capital definitely covers and offers everyone the best of both worlds.