Brick Lane – London’s Graffiti Scene (01.08.14)
This week marked the two year anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics, with the bulk of celebrations taking place at the newly refurbished Olympic Park.
The legacy of London’s hugely successful and mega-popular Olympics Games is now being put to the test with a sharp focus on the benefits left from the Olympic Park, Games facilities and surrounding area. Full details of these benefits can be found in the Department of Culture Media & Sport’s post Games ‘Meta-evaluation of the Impacts & Legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games’. It concludes that among the many benefits to the community are a ‘substantial boost to the economy’ and ‘socio-economic change in east London’.
Living in London, I have found that while the changes are evident in the expansion of east London’s facilities, the region’s new housing options are also making a big impact as a new, younger generation of city immigrants starts looking eastwards for their accommodation.
That said, to the naked eye change and Olympic east London local area regeneration and enhancement is mixed and remains ‘work in progress’.
Brick Lane (famous not only for its modern day vibrant Bangladeshi-Sylheti community, but also the huge variety of other immigrant groups over the centuries) is an example of how there remains a long way to go before full regeneration has been completed.
Walking through Brick Lane’s local streets earlier this week I was once again struck by the variety of bars, restaurants, cafes, shops, stalls as well as the high level of street-energy. Petticoat Lane, Columbia Road, Christ Church Spitalfields and the Jamme Masjid Great London Mosque are continuing to see positive changes to their close environment. Positive in that the surrounding area feels more akin to the resurgence of Notting Hill Gate and Ladbroke Grove in the 1980s, than run-down sweat shops and disused buildings seen in Brick Lane at the same period.
That said, if you visit Brick Lane today and look behind the new façade bright lights, you will see that the area still suffers from a desperate need for investment. Overgrown and broken alleyways often lead to crumbling buildings and piles of derelict rubble.
The colourful wrapping is however, majestically provided by the famous – and fast becoming world famous – Brick Lane graffiti.
The whole area enjoys some of the most impressive, colourful and uplifting graffiti you will find anywhere on the planet. Allegedly featuring artists such as Banksy, D*Face, Ben Eine, ROA and Stik, the otherwise run-down and potentially sad demise of the area has been give the most uplifting of face jobs. Certainly since the last time I visited the area, a year or so ago, the expansion in street art has exploded beyond all belief.
Matching the energy and vibrancy that Brick Lane is famous for, the street art enhances the area magnificently. Examples are shown in this selection of photographs, all of which I took this week, in the confines of Brick Lane and surrounding streets.
Funnily enough, this pocket of east London reminded me of Lapa in Rio do Janeiro – which will host the 2016 Olympics in two years’ time – more than anywhere else.
Lapa is another inner-city area experiencing a resurgence in popularity, energy and development. Walking through its streets only last month, I was also struck there by the location’s vibrancy and colour, led, in the main, by omnipresent local graffiti, which lifts an otherwise run down, derelict, and threatening environment into a more colourful, funky and vibrant scene.
Brick Lane, East London – July, 2014