The East End Art Scene

Banksy, the Bristol-based artist and provocateur who has maintained his anonymity despite works that now command six figures, is widely credited with making Londoners see street art as more than mere vandalism. He first came to public attention in the East End in the late '80s, and the area continues to attract new talent from around the globe today. Unfortunately, much of Banksy’s early work has been lost, either from being covered over by local councils and building owners, defaced by other graffiti artists, or removed by profiteers. Currently murals remain at Rivington Street near Old Street (in the garden of Cargo bar and nightclub), and Stoke Newington Church Street. Street Art London ( offers a knowledgeable, insider view on the ever-changing scene, taking you through the history of street art and graffiti in this area and highlighting the best of Banksy's successors. Take the Saturday tour to avoid the noise of weekday traffic.

Today, East London is a global hotbed of contemporary art, but its avant-garde roots go way back. Shoreditch's cheap industrial units and Georgian–Victorian terraced streets have attracted artists since the 1960s, when op-art pioneer Bridget Riley established a service to find affordable studio space for her contemporaries. In the early ’90s it gained new notoriety when Young British Artists Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin began selling their own and their friends’ work in The Shop, joining Maureen Paley’s influential Bethnal Green gallery, and the long-established Whitechapel Art Gallery, where many leading abstract expressionists and pop artists had their first U.K. shows. Hoxton truly became a destination for well-heeled collectors when Jay Jopling, the most important modern-art dealer in town, set up his White Cube gallery in 2000 (it’s now in Bermondsey, with a second location at Mason's Yard in Westminster), followed by Kate MacGarry’s gallery in 2002.

Priced out by the area’s fashionability, the emerging artists themselves have relocated farther off the beaten path to edgier neighborhoods such as Hackney, with several trendsetting galleries found clustered around Cambridge Heath Road and Vyner Street.

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