Sunday, 4 May 2014

Alternative London Walking Tour

I had the pleasure of recently being invited to contribute to the first anniversary of The Filipino Expat magazine, which you can read HERE. This issue is very special as it features Filipinos in Europe who are excelling in the creative industry and performing arts. Further down is a screenshot of my short piece alongside other Filipino bloggers based in Europe. Modesty aside, I'm very proud as this is my very first photograph printed. As a non-photographer, it feels like a special mention in a Photography for Beginners' class.

The theme was about arts and culture, and it inspired me to visit the opposite side of town which I normally don't venture into because I've been comfortably adopted by the West/Northwest end of London. Some parts of the East End to me, are gritty and dingy, which is all the more emphasised by the glistening wetness of the streets after a heavy downpour. Despite that, I wouldn't wish for the heart of the East End to be gentrified due to its proximity to the financial district. I like it as it is.

East London, as some would perhaps know, is home to street art, whether authorised or non-commissioned. I found out that there's a dedicated tour just for that. I don't have all the time in the world to hop on the tube and get lost in the East End, so I booked the free tour. You'll be pleased to know that the Alternative London Walking Tour is on a pay-what-you-like basis. More than just a street art tour, the guides also give cultural and historical insights on what made the East End the artsy hub that it is today.

The day began with bright and sunny skies, which turned dark and gloomy towards the late afternoon. Typical London weather.

Christ Church Spitalfields in mid-March  (a printed magazine is produced roughly two months before publication). The church was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, the former assistant of Christopher Wren who designed St. Paul's Cathedral.

See the windows on top of these Georgian townhouses along Fournier St? They are the original 'topshop' for the silk-weaving business of French Huguenots back in the early 1700s.

An echo of Fournier St.'s Jewish settlement after the decline of the silk-weaving industry

An artwork by the aerosol writer Shok-1, along Fournier St.

Stencil art by Azeem on a barbershop's door along Brick Lane

My little bald friend looking out onto Hanbury St.

I'm afraid I can't recall the name of the artist for this one and some others along Hanbury St. Apologies for that as I wasn't listening to the guide. That's what happens when you're busy taking photos.



Another artist unknown to me. I thought the three-dimensional painted post box was amusing

Just look around and you'll see something in every corner

The stretch of Hanbury St.

Hanbury St. is nicknamed 'Permission St' as this is one area in the East End where artists can escape the accusation of defacement. This wall has been used by several artists, with this 'octolephant' as the latest resident in March. The artist painted it for eight days and had to re-book his flight as it took longer to finish than he thought.

  p. 44-45 of the 1st anniversary issue of The Filipino Expat magazine where I contributed a short piece on why London is my top European arts and culture destination. Congratulations to everyone involved in the making of the magazine!

Belgian artist ROA is the man behind our winged friend. He specialises in painting blown-up visuals of animals.

Photo courtesy of Mr Tittle-Tattles who does better in capturing the aura of a painted bird more than capturing mine

Argentinian Martin Ron's artwork is described as "...hyper realistic surrealist imagery on a huge scale" by Street Art London

Chimney of the Black Eagle Brewery, the former brewing plant of Truman's Brewery that now houses 250 businesses from retail shops to cultural and art galleries.

The speciality of French artist Clet Abraham is making road signs more interesting to motorists and pedestrians alike.


Getting closer to the area of bombed out East End during World War II that remained boarded up instead of getting rehabilitated.

The home of Pop Art

Jonesy is the elusive British bronze-and-wood sculptor behind these figures placed atop street signposts. The website has an extensive list of all his works around the East End.


Another of ROA's works

Shepard Fairey is the American artist behind this and President Obama's 'Hope' campaign poster for the 2008 US Presidential election.

Anything goes

RRobots travelled all the way from New York by invitation of Village Underground Wall Shoreditch

Christiaan Nagel loves his mushrooms, he leaves a trail around the East End. His mushrooms are made from styrofoam, fiber glass and stainless steel.

Invader is a French urban artist whose works can be found in more than 60 cities in 30 countries. His works are inspired by pixellated video game characters. He sees himself as a hacker of public space (Wikipedia).

Blurred as I took this photo from a distance

El Mac is a spraypaint artist from Los Angeles

Vhils is the street art name of Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto. He carves using a pneumatic drill.

And one stuck on a side of a building, almost a chewing gum that had its time. French street artist Gregos creates replicas of himself portraying his moods and humour. He paints and glues them on the walls of Paris. There are around 500 of his faces installed everywhere in the city. This happy selfie made it to the East End of London.

See you in the East End?


  1. Ha, that last bit of artwork is fab - I do recall seeing this somewhere, but cant think where. I take it all of these are the authorised street work and if they're not they should be. I can't remember the last time I was in the East End but I wonder how often this creative work goes unnoticed as people carry on their merry way.

    Have a good week xx

    1. East End is not my place to live, but I love going there coz I feel younger, like a struggling artist minus the talent :D x

  2. Wonderful pictures and art, congratulations on being invited to contribute! I love the painted bird as well. Some of my favourite artists started as street artists, I still have a few pieces that I have from them. It goes to show you that art is indeed, all around us!

    1. Thanks Madison! Yes it's true! Art is eveywhere you look, if you look close enough :)

  3. So many inspiring sights! Thanks for presenting the arty side of the East End.

  4. That octolephant shot of yours is a really powerful image, babe, congratulations on making it in the magazine, that's a huge honor!! In this day and age of all the online media I think most people still revere the 'old school, analogue' ones more. At least I know I do, so kudos to you, dear! But I understand you 100 % - when I take pictures I zone out, I don't hear anyone or anything. Hey, dedication and concentration are the key to success, right?:)

    1. Thanks Peet! I still prefer 'old' school' coz in more ways than one, I'm old school. I just make it out I'm modern. Hahaha. I zone out when I take photos, that's why I avoid doing too much of that when I'm on holiday coz I end up not enjoying the holiday!


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