East London, although without an official definition, is a section of London to the east of the City of London. It has its origins in 1720 as “That Part Beyond the Tower”. This area now comprises the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. It is traditionally known as a low-class area.
The Boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets in East London can boast a lot of art. Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Spitalfields are particularly popular destinations among street artists.
East London is the focal point of street art for several reasons. Firstly, west Hackney and Shoreditch in particular are resided by a community of artists, designers and musicians. Artists in Shoreditch rent the low-rise warehouses, erected originally to house London’s furniture industry, but later left abandoned by the middle of the 20th century due to the industry’s decline.
Businesses and galleries in Shoreditch alike have seized the benefits to be gained by displaying and commissioning art on the outside of their buildings. This legal street art has promoted Shoreditchs as the centre of street art in London, and attracts artists from abroad. Some of them are invited, and some come on their own to put up their works. A large amount of street art in Shoreditch has been created by artists who are not from London. The informal works have been encouraged by the fact that Shoreditch is dowdy, and in spite of its wealth it provides a number of empty buildings, railway lines and wasteland car parks, where artists are eager to put their works.
Despite the vivid development, street art in East London is going to decline. There are plans featuring glass skyscrapers, fuelled by corporative property investment, that are meant to replace the old warehouses.
Shoreditch has become so famous for its street art that it is not at all surprising to hear that artists go there for that reason alone. The streets are frequented by bloggers, writers and photographers who record, sort and analyse the works on the Internet with true vigour and attention to detail.
If you decide to visit Shoreditch you should also visit Blackall Street, an unprepossessing backstreet that runs behind several galleries and graphic design studios. Artists regularly decorate it with innovative and provocative paste-ups.