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Friday, December 30, 2016

Street Art Tours | Alternative London

alternative london graffiti tour

Having lived in London for many years, it can be surprising that many Londoners have never been to or seen the wonders of Brick Lane. Not really knowing what to look for and most likely getting lost, many aimlessly wonder around looking for the hidden (or not) art of the streets. Offering 2 hour long Walking or Cycling tours across London as well as graffiti workshops and a Pub Tour, Alternative London guides small groups through the infamous streets of Shoreditch, explaining the history of the area and how street art came to be.

One of the tour guides, Doug Gillen is a very witty, knowledgeable man who seems very passionate about his job, the art scene and his newest project; Fifth Wall (an independent short film company that focuses on London’s Creative Arts Scenes). “I don’t actually know how I got into art, no one does. It kind of finds you.”

Guiding groups of around 20 through Spitalfields, Brick Lane and the surrounding areas, Doug is very interactive and gets talking about his film project and his love of street art “I’m aware of my artistic abilities, but while I’m still refining the craft, I specialise in Videography, I document street art, alternative culture, social enterprise. I just spent 3 months running around with Jonsey. I run a project called Fifth Wall and I will spend a large part of the tour self-promoting.". Surprisingly knowing a LOT about the history of Shoreditch and the immigration waves into the area; Jewish and Bangladeshi, he explains what effect this had on the area and its buildings. Home to 54 curry houses, the Bangladeshi end (Banglatown) of Brick Lane is also home to pieces by Borondo, Alexis Diaz, Roa and Martin Ron.

Instructing us to “stop looking at the pavement” and “look up”, Doug explains that street art isn’t always immediately visible; pointing out one of Jonsey’s sculptures on top of a lamppost. He explains that lots of artists have worked alongside homeless charities and sell off their art to make donations. Proving that the stereotypical ‘man on the side of a building at night illegally spray-painting’ view of street artists needs to be broken. He goes on to explain the legalities behind different types of street art and the ‘ticking clock’ that all pieces have before they are painted over. Most of the pieces we were shown had been ‘tagged’ within 24 hours of being put up; Beau Stanton included. “If pieces don’t change, they can just become stagnant. You need to be in the right place at the right time”

The first London Tour to run on a ‘pay-what-you-like’ basis, the tour does not exclude anyone, leaving it accessible to people from all walks of life. Whether you’re a tourist, a student or a long time resident or a businessperson, you are free to pay what you can or pay what you feel the tour is worth - a brilliant concept if you’re short on cash but still want a great but educational day out. Seeing things you never thought you’d see and opening your eyes to talented artists such as Space Invader, Dal East, Mac Arte, Vhils, and Amara Por Dios, among others who have decorated the walls of East London.

Have you ever been on this walking tour? What did you discover?
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