There’s nothing like insider, local knowledge, so that’s why we asked local blogger and regular contributor Cecilia Cran, or @mileendmoments to pull together a guide to the best street art in Mile End and Bow for you to enjoy on your summer strolls. Watermarked photographs by Massimo Iannetti
East London has always had an impressive cultural heritage. From the birth of the suffragette movement and the site where the first doodlebug fell to where the idea for the charity Barnardos was first born (and these where just the first ones to come into my head, there are so many more!) we’ve got it all.
Alongside these significant accolades, as a local, I feel so lucky to benefit from an active community of artists and creatives, that have graced the area for many years, from the likes of Sue Kreitzman to film director Danny Boyle. The community is very inclusive and supportive, they like to inspire and encourage emerging artists and young talent, paving the way and cementing a positive future for art in these parts. Already local artists are making their mark on the art world – Eddie Peake, a local Mile Ender held his most recent exhibition at the acclaimed White Cube gallery.
One of the (many) reasons I love Mile End and the surrounding area is the art you see and the fact that it’s everywhere you look, you don’t need to set foot in an art gallery to experience it. Although, we’re furnished with a great selection of them too – the Nunnery Gallery, the Art Pavilion and the Chisenhale Gallery, to name just a few.
Mile End and the surrounds has attracted a host of famous street artists over the years, from Stik, who decorated a local shop front with his inimitable stik men, to Andy Leek, of ‘Notes to Strangers’ fame.
Here, I have pulled together a selection of my favourite local art for you to enjoy.
East End mural on Aberavon Road
This art was the result of an event organised a couple of years ago, where a bunch of hugely talented environmental artists came together to paint some beautiful, moving images of endangered animals. The murals can be found by Ackroyd Drive on the railway arches in Mile End, which line the South of Tower Hamlets Cemetery and are the brainchild of Luis Masai and Charlotte Webster from the art platform Human Nature. You will see everything from a whale, a rhino, to a tiger and orangutan alongside other endangered animals. Above the murals are the words: ‘All of nature rests in the hands of man’s wisdom let us not be fools.’ Such a poignant and important message, delivered in an accessible, engaging way.
The Lord Morpeth suffragette mural
The magic door of Mile End
I have a feeling this is perhaps a piece of unintentional art. It looks like a film set, or maybe just a door that has been forgotten – the owners having one entrance and exit, neither of which are this door. It stands there, weather beaten, paint peeling and hinges rusting, but beautiful. It sits off an unassuming side street near the Morgan Arms pub and I have a feeling each time I pass it that if I were to open it and walk through, I’d somehow be transported into another world. Other Mile-Enders I have spoken to feel the same, which is why I feel it worthy of a mention.
Stik, just off Bow Common Lane
I can’t resist mentioning a bit of the street art that adorns Roman Road. This has since been covered up by a new piece, but I thought it deserved a shout out. I haven’t found the name of the artist of this piece and I’m not sure if there’s a relevance for it being in this spot. I know street art divides opinion and it is quite subjective, but I am a fan of it and like pieces that don’t cause offence and brighten up the neighbourhood.
Amy Winehouse on Grove Road
Pearly Kings and Queens on the Bow Bells pub
If you enjoyed this piece you may like our tour of public art in Bow and Globe Town
Can you help us?
As a not-for-profit media organisation using journalism to strengthen communities, we have not put our digital content behind a paywall or membership scheme as we think the benefits of an independent, local publication should be available to everyone living in our area.
If a fraction of the local 40,000 residents donated two pounds a month to Roman Road LDN it would be enough for our editorial team to serve the area full time and be beholden only to the community. A pound at a time, we believe we can get there.