Got a free Sunday in London and wondering what to do? Well, you COULD book a street art tour in Camden using YPlan. We booked last minute on a Saturday night for a tour departing at 11am the next day outside Camden Town Station. Price £12.50 per person.
For over 2 hours, our guide showed us street art we had never seen or noticed before. It’s important to point out that we are North London locals and have been for the past year. So whether you are a tourist or local Londoner you will get something out of it.
Lucky for us we were the only two people on the tour. Ah the things you can achieve the next day when you’ve had a night in instead of a night out! Our guide was an expert on the topic particularly given that she not only leads tours, but also helps street artists legally find wall space for their murals. And it’s a busy job! Most street art in high demand locations remain for around 1 month before the next street artist paints over it. Or graffiti artist sprays over it. Street art with more effort put into it or where the public and/or local businesses campaign for it to stay can remain for up to 4 or 5 months like the art on the left below, or even longer.
I just gave you a hint about the differences between street art and graffiti. The main differences are that graffiti artists use spray paint and words are more of a focus, whereas street artists give you the opportunity to interpret the art as you like. There is crossover though as our guide explained. Graffiti artists also compete for the same wall space and our guide includes them in the rotation.
Street art can be either legally or illegally done and is sometimes political. The first street art our guide showed us was a fox above a bank with the words painted ‘get rich or try sharing’. This is done by a street artist called Mau Mau who was criticised on social media because he painted over a ghost sign. A ghost sign is a heritage listed and therefore protected sign on an old building. Have you noticed the connection between the art itself and the location yet? Again Mau Mau considers location and message carefully with his two little pigs on the door of a nightclub. Stand back and it almost looks like they’re real! Or is that the psychedelic colours added by Darry Perier?
The Free West Papua street art near Camden Markets will remain in my mind for quite a while. It gives the message of the fight for freedom and encourages you to look further. Curious? I’ll let you Google it just like I did after seeing this VERY moving street art. Better yet, you could visit the Pride and Prejudice exhibition by street artist Dale Grimshaw over March and April this year. You might have guessed that his street art has been legally arranged given he is using his real name and exhibiting his work.
As you can imagine, Amy Winehouse is a regular feature in North London street art. I must admit, I HAVE seen Amy Winehouse street art before. Not these ones though. Probably because of the rotation I didn’t realise happened so often. The first Amy Winehouse our guide showed us was done by Bambi, a street artist whose identity remains unknown. The second was in Stucley Place and as you can see below is a mix of street art and graffiti. The eyes are so realistic. I could stare at it for hours. If you want to see it for yourself you’ll need to be quick as it will be replaced in April. This year!
Some unwritten rules in the world of street art include not painting over other street artists’ work without permission (makes sense), needing to offer something ‘more’ or ‘better’ when painting over other street art and ensuring it is always visible because street art should be free for everyone to enjoy. Come to think of it, we are lucky to live in a place like London that allows street art.
So, would I recommend it to others? Let’s just say that after today, I’ll never be able to walk past street art again without thinking about the message and the artist. I see that as a HUGE positive. Much better than a mind full of things like work and life admin!
Oh and hot tip! If Banksy (street artist) leaves you with the blessing of his street art on your property wall, act quickly! It’s worth tens of thousands, maybe more!
Tour date: March 2017