Street Art In The East End – Brick Lane And Spitalfields

One of the great things about the streets of Brick Lane and Spitalfields, through which we wend our nightly way on the Jack the Ripper tour, is the amount of urban street art that has appeared on the walls.

Indeed, there is so much that it is worth keeping your eyes well and truly peeled to ensure that you don’t miss any of it.

But, should you do so, worry not, we have made a little film that captures the East End street art for your delectation.

WATCH OUR EAST LONDON STREET ART FILM

However, since street art is, so to speak, a fixed – as opposed to a moving – feast I thought I’d take this opportunity of presenting five pieces of East End street art in today’s blog.

So, without further ado, here goes with the first of several blogs that will take a close up look at some of the artistic offerings that can be enjoyed on a wander along Brick Lane and through Spitalfields.

THE FACE ON THE WALL

Close to the former site of 29 Hanbury Street – where the murder of Annie Chapman took place on 8th September 1888 – you will find this colourful face on the wall. Spookily, it almost has the appearance of a death mask.

A multi-coloured face that can be seen on a wall in Hanbury Street.
Face On The Wall, Hanbury Street

HOW TO BUILD A UNIVERSE

Take a stroll along Brick Lane and, set back in a court on the left you will find that almost every spare square inch of space has been utilised to present the viewer with an eclectic array of dynamic and colourful street art. This one, for example, offers visual instruction on “How to build a universe.” How indeed!

A Frankenstein type face above which is the leterring saying The End of the Universe"
How to Build A Universe, Brick Lane.

THE SCARY LADY OF NEW GOULSTON STREET

En route from Goulston Street to Mitre Square, keep an eye open for this frightening apparition on the door of The Bell Pub. You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d strayed onto the set of The Walking Dead.

A white faced scary lady with blood running from her mouth.
The Scary Lady of New Goulston Street

WHERE EGOS COME TO DIE

At the far end of Hanbury Street, so a little way off our walking tour route, you will find this breathtaking wall painting entitled “The Death of Ego.” It is on such a massive scale that I actually walked straight past it without actually noticing it the first time I passed it by! I only really saw it as I was walking back along the opposite side of Hanbury Street.

A giant wall paiting showing figures dancing on an asteroid above which in yellow letters it reads "The Death of Ego".
The Death of Ego, Hanbury Street

JOHN STEED THE AVENGER

One of the intriguing things about street art that struck me as I went around photographing every example that I encountered was its lack of permanence. Until recently, for example, this wall on Wilkes Street, Spitalfields, was occupied by HM, Queen Elizabeth 11 and Charles Dickens.

But, now they have been superseded, or at least painted over, and replaced by John Steed and Emma Peel from the cult 60’s show The Avengers.

I’m sure that Mr Dickens and Her Maj are still under there somewhere, struggling to peek out at the comings and goings along Wilkes Street. And, who knows, the day may yet come when the post of “curator of the artworks for the East End” is created and, in attempting a restoration previous images on a wall or a door will come to light. I mean. you often hear that the masters re-sued canvasses and left ghost likenesses beneath what were destined to become iconic portraits or scenes. Just a thought!

John Steed in his bowler hat.
The Avengers of Wilkes Street

So there are my first five offerings of terrific examples of the street art you can encounter, and photograph, as you make your way around Spitalfields and along Brick Lane. Obviously, this is just a small – and at that a VERY SMALL – fraction of the artistic prowess that is on display in the area. But it’s there and it awaits your discovery.

So, when you join us for a Jack the Ripper tour, please keep in mind that there is so much more to the area. Yes, you’ll see the old Victorian photographs, and get to admire some wonderful old houses and streets, but keep an eye out also for the street art that is now such an integral part of the culture of the East End.