2014 Travel – London: Staring at the City

6 Jul

Now I’m back in London, I have a friend over from the States for 2 months, and its making me do things differently. I’m experiencing the city through the eyes of a tourist and honestly, you should do it. Even in your own city. There is so much to see and do in a city so rich with culture, and getting the chance to be part of it is amazing.mklm

Yesterday we signed up for the “Alternative London Tour” which casts a path through the rich tapestry that is East London. Starting and finishing in Old Spitalfields Market (one of my favourite places to spend a sleepy Sunday) the tour weaves through Banglatown, Brick Lane and Tower Hamlets to bring you back to the start.

The art we saw was amazing. I don’t really get the view that graffiti is abhorrent – I understand that some kid writing his name in spray paint isn’t ideal for a community, but when you turn a corner and see portraiture by the medium of aerosol paint, you can’t argue that it doesn’t have its place in art history in the same was as Van Gogh or (Londoner) Tracy Emin.


Each tiny alley or side street taught us something; the ability to look and actually see. Signposts with angel toppers cast from pigeon wings, white walls stenciled with the words “99% of people will not see this” and mosaic tags of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker; all sights we see each day but never really take the time to look at.

We wove through time, from the airy spaced, open windows of the Huguenot workspaces, to the Jewish community site that was wiped out in the Blitz, all presided over by a place of worship that had passed from Catholicism to Judaism and now stands as a Mosque. We stepped through local communities – I love that this area is rich with family run businesses and one off stores, and listened as the passion flowed from our tour guide.  The East of London is a rich dichotemy of culture, and a bustling place to check out in London. Sixty years ago it wouldn’t have been a great place to visit as a tourist, but without taking a trip to Shoreditch you miss a whole, beautiful section of London. The typical London summer weather didn’t even stop us.


The magic of this tour is born from the experience and passion of the tour guides. The tour is also a “pay what you think its worth” basis, making normally high priced tours accessible to everyone.

If you have 48 hours in London this summer, you need to check this out.

 How do you feel about graffiti as an expression of creativity?

3 Responses to “2014 Travel – London: Staring at the City”

  1. prenin July 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Art is one thing: endless tags and vandalism is something else!

    We can see some good art on the train into Manchester, but it is soon painted over – trespass and vandalism are commonplace.

    Banksy does some good stuff and it IS art, but now people are chopping it out of walls and trying to profit from it! 😦

    I guess if it’s art on somebodies wall, then they are free to profit from it, but it still goes against the grain… 😦

    Love and hugs my friend!!! 🙂


  2. Paul July 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    I don’t mind graffiti as long as it portays something – surrealistic or not. Simple tagging is just an ego trip in everyone’s face. The other great thing about graffitit art is that it comes to meet you in your natural daily environment – you don’t have to seek it out or deal with it being protected. I used to drive a large fuel tanker and one night I was dropping a load in a small northern Ontario lumber town called Englehart. There is a major rail railyard there and on my way back to the highway. I had to cross numerous rail lines. It was about 2 am and as I came to one rail line, a long train was just leaving the yard and was across the road moving very slowly. There was a row of box cars (about 20) and they had an astounding mountain range with forests, snow capped peaks and rivers drawn in multi colors across the whole length of the twenty cars. It must have taken weeks to do as the cars sat in a siding. It was so well done that it drew the observer in and completely made you feel like you were actually standing in a forest looking at the real thing.

    I am sure that the railroad would object to the mural, but from an observers perspective it was enthralling. I’m not sure how to balance those two views, but I enjoyed it immensely.

  3. Sam July 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    I loved Shoreditch when I was over there. I especially loved the graffiti: http://www.thatplaceinmyhead.co.za/gorgeous-graffiti-and-cookie-monsters-why-i-love-shoreditch/

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