Brighton & Hove, on England’s South Coast, is not just a popular place for families to go on their summer jollies; it’s a city that offers a lot for any urban art enthusiast. So much so, I decided to write a blog post dedicated to it.
Brighton is a city that reminds me a lot of Bristol and East London, in a laid-back, independent coffee, vintage market, smells of weed, anti-establishment kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, there’s the standard Starbucks, Boots, Tesco Local-themed high street that we’re all used to, but mix that with coffee roasters like Small Batch and the quirky shops on North Laine and you’ll feel something quite unique about this town on the South Coast.
For me, Brighton cements itself as one of the best cities in the UK for street art and the sheer scale of the graffiti makes it comparable to Paris and Berlin. The likes of Banksy, Blek le Rat, RONE and Gary Stranger, to name a few, have all plied their trade in this seaside town.
North Laine is a pretty good place to start graffiti hunting in Brighton as the surrounding streets are plastered with colourful tagging, stencils and huge murals.
In typically British fashion it was pissing it down throughout my trip to the South Coast, but it didn’t spoil the urban art on offer:
While strolling around the streets of Brighton I came across this old school camper van, which I feel says it all about the city and its culture:
Up the top end of town and about a 10-15 minute walk from the seafront is Trafalgar Lane – a street not too dis-similar to the Rue Dénoyez in Paris, aka the graffiti street – where street art in any form is legal.
Many backstreets in this part of Brighton strike a familiar theme, and from here, right down to the city centre each road and every road is worth walking down.
Brighton and Banksy
I couldn’t really post about street art in Brighton without mentioning Banksy…
Back in 2004, the Bristolian street artist, sprayed the ‘Kissing Coppers’ piece on the side of the Prince Albert boozer in Brighton city centre, only for it to be sold-on for an astonishing amount. Ten years later, after same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK, the piece returned on the old and abandoned Astoria, though representatives of the graffiti-legend stated it was not his work this time round.
Whether Banksy returned to do this himself or not, I guess we’ll never know. However, I did find this a rather romantic aspect to the urban art scene (no pun intended).
And to make it even more interesting, when wondering through the city centre I stumbled upon a piece by Blek le Rat – a French street artist and pioneer of stencil graffiti (who claims ‘Banksy stole his style’). I found it quite compelling that the Frenchman’s work was particularly unnoticed; it wasn’t covered in plexiglass, nor was it tagged over by someone else, in fact, there wasn’t even hoards of tourists frantically trying to get a picture of it. Yet, if this had been done by Banksy it would have been covered up by the building’s owners and sold to Brad Pitt or some other Hollywood celebrity by now.
Back in the city centre there’s some amazing existing artwork by RONE (an Australian-based street artist) and Gary Stranger (famous for his typographic pieces) that are well worth checking out:
I highly recommend a trip to Brighton, and even if you don’t like street art; who doesn’t like fish and chips, cheesy arcade games on the seafront, donuts and skinny dipping?!
Just don’t go in February…
Check out my other blog posts for more pictures and guides to street art in the UK, including how to find the best Banksy’s in London.
As always, graffiti lovers & artists, please add comments, share your favourite pieces and add any info I’ve missed.