Camden is a world of its own… and with that comes some of the best street art in the city. Here’s a step by step guide to seeing some of the best street art in London (hint, there’s a free Camden street art map too).
Can I make a confession? I have distinctly avoided Camden for the last ten years. There was a period when I was 17 and desperately trying to fit in somewhere (I flirted with being a goth but couldn’t deal with the makeup. I leant towards going grunge but the fashion at the time was to wear really, really baggy jeans and a tight top, a look that made me look like a stuffed elephant).
Anyway, the point is, I spent a lot of time in Camden during a certain part of my teenage life in the UK and I’ve never really wanted to spend much time there since.
So it was real dedication that led me to head to Camden at the weekend. I was in pursuit of street art to research this article (the second in our series of best places in London for street art). Street art is something that Camden has something of a reputation for. I’d been to Shoreditch and fangirled over the street art there (you should really read about that), Walthamstow, and then Camden.
We’ll ignore the fact that walking along Camden High Street on a Sunday is like hell and skip to the part where we found our first piece of the day. And what a piece.
Dale Grimshaw is an artist that has really captured my heart. He often focuses on strong tribal subjects and has a few pieces fighting for the freedom of West Papua. Though I’ve seen quite a few pieces within his West Papua series (including this one in Shoreditch), I think that this one is my favourite for the sheer power of the image. Belligerent but stately, there’s no ignoring Grimshaw’s message here.
One of the things that I love about street art is (by and large) the artists are so accessible and the fact that they are working in the public sphere means lots of opportunities to see them in action. I caught Mr Cenz at work in Shoreditch. If you catch it quickly, you can watch musician J Hus and Dotmaster spray some street art on GQ’s Facebook Live video tomorrow (12 May at 3.30pm BST).
Looking for more London travel inspiration? Check out these offbeat tours in London
Hawley Mews and Hawley Street
From there, it’s a mere hop, skip and a jump down to Hawley Mews where you’ll find a number of pieces crammed into a relatively small alley.
We spotted pieces by Void 16, Himbad, Marina Zumi and Tony Boy. Sure the pieces change, but Hawley Mews is a real hotspot for street art, so you are always guaranteed to find something impressive there.
At the end of Hawley Mews, near the corner of Hawley Street and Camden High Street, you can find this new piece by French artist Zabou. It’s pretty hot off the press, which is perhaps why there was a modelling shoot taking place in front of it (which explains the random arm poking into the picture).
Cross the road to spy another of Tony Boy’s works, this arresting man in luminous blues and pinks.
A comment on the empty-mindedness of seemingly upstanding members of society? Spray paint as a means of inspiration? Whatever your interpretation, the work is sure to stop you in your tracks.
If there were a number of interpretations for Tony Boy’s work, there are almost endless ones for this piece by DRT. I love the abstract shapes and bold lines of DRT’s work. It’s the portal to a world of colours and dimensions that is vaguely mesmerising.
Homage to Prince
You’ll be glad to know that the next step involves you taking a (not-so) sneaky shortcut down towards Camden Town. It allows you to skip the tourist bloodbath that is the stretch of the High Street and the Stables and to glimpse a few more large-scale murals along the way (win-win!).
This psychedelic piece went up last month and was created by Italian artist Awer. Awer’s pieces set out to distract people from the boredom of everyday life – I’d say this one’s a success.
Just across the road you’ll find another enclave (the back entrance of Electric Ballroom) with a few choice murals.
This one of Prince has got to be my favourite, if only for the fact that it captures his ethereal aura pretty perfectly. The larger-than-life artist played a surprise gig at Electric Ballroom a few years, so the piece was put up as an homage. It’s set to be taken down on in June on Prince’s birthday (cue aghast face emoji), so you really need to hurry to see it. Time’s ticking people.
Prince is in good company. The back of Electric Ballroom is another one of those surprise hubs filled with large-scale murals. Though nothing can quite compare to Prince (well, for me anyway, it’s still raw), works by Ant Carver and Molecula Howl adorn some of the other wall spaces in the yard. We can all see why Camden is one of the best Instagram spots in London right?
Jewish Museum’s Amy Winehouse Street Art Trail
Need another reason to make sure you are heading to Camden fairly pronto? The Jewish Museum’s temporary Amy Winehouse Street Art Trail is only running until 4th June. We spotted a few of the pieces featured on the trail, starting with Pegasus’s small-scale piece on the front of The Earl of Camden pub.
The End of the Street Art Trail
You’ll rarely find a piece of street art without some kind of message, no matter how coded. It’s not too difficult to work out what Lora Zombie’s Heavy Heart is trying to say. Was the accompanying message created by the artist? Looks like it to me. Shout up if you know.
And then, we were almost at the end. But not before we took a stroll down the teeny-weeny Miller Street.
Ah Chunk – this larger-than-life piece by JXC was enough to stop us in our tracks. Does anyone else still hold a soft spot for The Goonies? JXC has captured the truffle shuffle perfectly – but with the intentionally disconcerting addition of a gang-style tattoo to Chunk’s stomach. He looks pretty happy about it though.
The alley is filled with art. I’m not even sure they could actually fit another one in alongside the current collection…
Still, it’s well worth peeking round the back of the alley.
It wouldn’t be a street art tour of Camden without finishing with a bit of Amy. And this one from Philth is a fairly wonderful one to finish with.
Camden Street Art Map
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