I love street art. To me, it’s the best museum there is. It has the same beauty and emotions as an indoor exhibition, but without the (often) rather dull setting. The sounds, smells and stress of the streets make the experience just that bit more exciting. Add the unpredictable London weather to the mix and you’re in for a spectacular ride.
Now I don’t know about you guys, but personally I knew next to nothing about the culture that goes with the street art. I used to be more of a ‘Aww, that is such a pretty image – I wonder how they got it up there’ kind of street art admirer. That is, until I went on a Camden Street Art Tour last week.
It was a little before 11am on a dreary Wednesday morning when I met Nelly – our tour guide – at Camden Town tube station. We chatted for a bit and at eleven sharp the tour began. It started off with Nelly pointing out a first piece of street art and the meaning behind it. I was immediately impressed by her knowledge, not only did she know a lot about the artist, she’s also fully informed about the legal (and non legal) aspects of everything street art related: super interesting stuff!
After this first burst of information we continued our tour and stopped in front of an Amy Winehouse image. A mandatory thing when you’re on a street art tour in Camden, right?! A fun fact about this particular mural is the guy who’s pictured next to Amy, I don’t think you’ll ever guess who he is, unless you live in the area.
My personal favourite came a little further down the road; there’s a stunning mural from a female Italian artist called AliCé – you can see part of it in the picture featured with this post. The colours are beautiful and the female she painted is not only pretty, but displays something mysterious and powerful at the same time. Nelly again knew a lot about the artist and had a funny anecdote about when this picture was being made.
Next up was a small alley with a few incredible murals. There is this one piece by an Argentinian artist which is super tall and bloody impressive. Nelly told us he probably made it in like 45 mins, using an extendable roller brush (unbelievable, I know).
Time for a cup of coffee to warm up and then we went to see a beautiful painting by Dale. It shows a tribe boy from West Papua New Guinea and the words ‘Free West Papua’. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know about the conflict that’s going on over there… For those of you who don’t know about it either: The people in West-Papua live on soil that is very rich in gold and the Indonesian government is keen to get their hands on it. Sadly, many have been killed because of this gold rush.
The before last piece on our street art tour was a painting of a beautiful Canadian duck. There’s a deeper meaning behind this one as well. When Trump was on about the immigrants, the Canadian prime minister said their borders are open and that everybody is welcome in Canada. Hence the Canadian duck. Pretty cool, right?!
Now, let there be no mistake, this was not the entire tour! I could go on for a long time and tell you everything Nelly told us about the artists, the ‘street art rules’ and the making of the paintings. But where’s the fun in me spoiling all the surprises? You should really go and check it out for yourself. I honestly can’t think of a better guide than Nelly as she is so knowledgeable.
One thing you should keep in mind though: If you want to see some of the art works I’ve showed you in this post, you might not want to wait too long. A lot of street art only stays up for a limited period of time and then other artists get to paint their work over it.
Voilà, that’s all! The tour is about two hours long (more if you ask a lot of questions like I did) and costs 35 pounds per person. If you book using the Neelie’s Next Bite code you get 50% off. Just follow the steps below.
1. Go to http://camdenstreetarttours.com/
2. Pick your chosen date and enter NEELIE50 before completing the checkout. The code is case sensitive.
Happy street art touring!