Banksy does NYC

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Little did I know that when I travelled out to New York in August this year that I would find one of the last-standing Banksy’s from the infamous street artist’s 2013 residency entitled “Better Out Than In”.

As a lover of the urban art scene I knew going to NYC (the birthplace of graffiti) would be pretty special, but I didn’t think I’d get chance to hunt down one of very few Banksy pieces left in the busiest city in the world. I’d been reading blogs and checking Instagram before my trip to see if any his work was still there. I noticed one piece on a lot of Instagram posts which was “Hammer Boy”, so I knew I had one good opportunity to find something.

Looking at a lot of the images I also noticed ‘Help save Zabar’s Banksy’ written above the work. This meant it could potentially go at any point and I would be pretty lucky to see it.

This goes to show, it doesn’t matter who you are in the street art world, one day your graff could be a thing of the past. It’s ever-changing scene which keeps it exciting and gives off a certain buzz in a city. While I was in the Lower East Side I managed to stumble upon work by two of my other favourite street artists; Stik and Os Gêmeos (who also featured in Banksy’s New York residency).

IMG_2738Funnily enough, when travelling on the Piccadilly Line to London’s Heathrow Airport (on my way out to New York) when passing through Acton Town it was nice to see that Stik’s piece on the side Charles Hocking House – the tallest piece of street art in the world – was still standing strong. It was kind of romantic to accidentally find his piece on a water tower in Lower Manhattan.

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As you can imagine, it’s pretty difficult doing everything you want in New York as the place is insanely massive. As it was my first time there I had to do the tourist stuff like Top of the Rock (best view of NYC by the way), Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero, Times Square, Yankees v The Mets, as well working a few days in between. On my last day I decided it was time to try finding one of the last Banksy pieces in New York.

I looked at a through Instagram posts and had seen a few people had tagged the location (79th and Broadway) and I also read a few blog posts which stated the piece was still there, which is what I really needed to know.

It was boiling that day and it’s safe to say I was sweating from all areas of my body by the time I made it to 79th St. I got the wrong Subway too so I had to get off at 72nd St and walk a few blocks. Though I highly recommend walking as much as possible as the Subway is rather hot (actually it’s fucking boiling) and not as easy to navigate as the London Underground.

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The area itself wasn’t really what you’d usually associate with a place you’d find street art (which I guess is typical of the Bristolian artist), and to be honest, I thought I was on a wild goose chase at first. But then as I started walking down 79th Street I looked across the road and could make out the protective glass… I had found what is one of the last few Banksy’s in NYC.

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It was a peaceful day and I was the only person taking photos of the piece. Which was pretty nice as in the documentary there is utter pandemonium on the streets every time Banksy sprays a wall. I had time to take it in without any bother and probably took more pictures than I needed to.

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It felt like quite a symbolic moment as I’ve been lucky enough to find some amazing Banksy’s in Bristol and London so it was a good feeling to find one of his last remaining pieces in the world’s greatest city.

So if you’re going in search of this Banksy this is the location:

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For more Banksy guides read my Bristol and London blog posts:

Banksy Hunting in LDN (London)

Dismaland Opens for Business (Banksy’s 2015 dystopian theme park)

The one and only Banksy (Bristol) 

Back in Bristol (Post on Bristol street art, including Banksy’s ‘Girl with the Pierced Eardrum’)

As always, graffiti lovers & artists, add comments and share your favourite Banksy’s.

Peace X

 

Brighton: sun, sea and street art

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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.

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The narrow and winding streets down North Laine are well worth a look

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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Kissing Coppers on the Brighton Astoria

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.

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The stencil pioneer: Blek le Rat

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Blek le Rat meets the fish eye lens

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:

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Classic, clean typography by Gary Stranger

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Stunning work by RONE

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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…

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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.

Peace x

 

Street art daily: East London vibes

Vibes

It’s been a while since my last blog post so here’s a quick one highlighting some of my favourite pieces in the east end of London Town. 

No matter how many times you take a wonder around the streets of Hackney and beyond, you’re always safe in the knowledge you’ll see work by the world’s best urban artists. There’s never a dull day in London, that’s for sure.

There’s some amazing new work in the east end at the minute, but here’s a ‘Thursday throwback’ to some of my faves. Apologies if I haven’t mentioned the artist (I do try credit artists when possible!).

ROA

One of many pieces by the Belgian, ROA. This piece can be found just off Brick Lane.

Brick-Line-

Another piece just off Brick Lane that’s been there for a year or so now. Not sure who it’s by but I love it.

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One of my favourite street artists, Stik, can be spotted all over East London and beyond.

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Stik adding value to this property at the top of the world famous Brick Lane.

UP

Sadly this UP street art has now disappeared from this wall on Old Street. Definitely up there with my favourite pieces of street art. Who Doesn’t love a Disney movie?

VHILS

Work by the incredibly talented VHILS. This skilled street artist carves his art into the building, leaving behind a stunning, life-like image. Not seen anything like this before. His work isn’t as common so when you find one, it’s worth admiring.

Do you have any favourite pieces of urban art in East London or any other cities? Share the street art love here. 

As always, graffiti lovers & artists, add comments, share your favourite street art, and any info I’ve missed.

Peace x

Street art daily: day nine

Underneath the London Transport Police Headquarters on Regent’s Canal in Camden is the place the street art war between Banksy and King Robbo started.

The feud resulted in them destroying each others work, most notably, Banksy ruining a 25 year old Robbo tag, and London’s oldest piece of graffiti. The street art war between Banksy and King Robbo was documented by Channel 4 in a programme called ‘Graffiti Wars’.

During the filming of the documentary, Robbo had a life-threatening head injury leaving him in hospital in a critical condition.

After spending three years in a coma Robbo sadly passed away, and although his original piece is long gone, a tag still stands in his honour under the police HQ.

RIP KING ROBBO

King-Robbo

Watch Channel 4’s Graffiti Wars here.

As always, graffiti lovers & artists, add comments and share your favourite King Robbo street art.

Peace x

Street art daily: day eight

Since I’ve been living in London I’ve been lucky enough to find some amazing street art by some of the best artists in the business. I’ve also seen some incredible art come and go in the blink of an eye. 

Here are some of my favourite East London captures…

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Broadway Market, Hackney: This colourful skull is no longer there – but it was one of my fave’s to grace Broadway Market. In its place is an amazing piece by French street artist, Zabou.

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Another on Broadway Market: Next to the colourful skull was this beautiful piece by Boe and Irony.

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We all used to love Pokemon but I don’t remember Pickachu looking anything like this! This piece was on Redchurch Street, Shoreditch.

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What’s not to love about a dinosaur in a suit with an umbrella?

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Nostalgia: Here’s some Mutley street art that was once on Brick Lane, Shoreditch.

UP

Classic: I love this piece on Old Street, East London. It’s Carl Fredricksen from Disney’s brilliant Up. Probably one of the best films ever! So the street art is right up there too.

And that’s it for Monday’s street art round-up. What’s your favourite piece of urban art, and why? 

As always, graffiti lovers & artists, add comments, share your favourite street art, and any info I’ve missed.

Peace x

Street art daily: day one

I’ve got hundreds upon hundreds of pictures of street art on my MacBook so I thought it’d be a good idea to share one piece every day this week. Some of the pieces are now long gone, while others are still standing.

Unless you’re Banksy and your work is protected by plexiglass it can be difficult for it to truly stand the test of time, or survive being tagged over by another artist. Over the past few years I’ve found some unbelievable urban art in places like Shoreditch, Camden, Bristol, Paris and Berlin.

I’ll start this post with this piece by Jimmy C. His unique style of ‘drip painting’ is very distinct and his work fuses fine art with a spray can and the results are jaw dropping. So here’s a big shout out to Jimmy C and his impeccable talent.

There’s three pieces by Jimmy on Whitby Street in Shoreditch and it’s hard not to love this one…

Jimmy C

Feel free to share some of your favourite street art and let me know where you think are the best cities for urban art.

Peace x

From Jack the Ripper to street art central

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It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post so I thought I’d write something short and sweet about some of my favourite urban art pieces to have graced east London’s Hanbury Street.

Hanbury Street, just off the one and only Brick Lane, is currently home to some incredible street art. Many of the world’s greatest artists ply their trade around the streets of Shoreditch, including the likes of Invader, OBEY, ROA and Banksy, to name but a few.

Back in the day

Over 100 years ago, Jack the Ripper murdered his second victim, Annie Chapman, behind 29 Hanbury Street. He brutally slashed her throat, ripped open her abdomen and removed her uterus. Pretty gruesome, right?

The only thing that remains from the horrific days of 1888 is the stunning architecture around Spitalfields like Christ Church, which opened in the 1730s, and the beautiful old houses.

That’s enough history for one blog post. I’m here to talk about some of my favourite street art to appear on the infamous graffiti wall on Hanbury Street. This wall can be found just before Blitz Vintage and it’s on the same side of the street as the huge ‘crane’ piece by Belgian street artist ROA.

Two staple pieces of street art on Hanbury St. The left is a stunning piece by Argentinian, Martin Ron, and on the right is ROA's 'crane'.

Two staple pieces of street art on Hanbury St. The left is a stunning piece by Argentinian, Martin Ron, and on the right is ROA’s ‘crane’.

Here are some the best pieces of urban art to appear on the vibrant and colourful Hanbury Street. Enjoy.

This is probably my favourite all time street art in London. It's such an incredible piece by Alexis Diaz.

This is probably my all time favourite piece of street art in London. It’s such an incredible piece combining an elephant with an octopus. Work by Alexis Diaz.

Another fantastic spectacle to appear on Hanbury St, was this piece by Aussie artist, RONE.

Another fantastic spectacle to appear on Hanbury St, was this piece by Aussie artist, RONE.

Another great piece that was on Hanbury Street for brief period.  Artist unknown.

Another great piece that was on Hanbury Street for brief period. Artist unknown.

This awesome piece was added to the infamous wall on Hanbury St this year and it's absolutely incredible.

This awesome piece was added to the infamous wall on Hanbury St this year and it’s absolutely incredible. Work by PIXEL PANCHO & EVOCA1.

This piece was added by Alexis Diaz and Elian Chali as recent as June 2015. It's another great example of the incredible talent on offer in East London's street art scene.

This piece was added by Alexis Diaz and Elian Chali as recent as June 2015. It’s another great example of the incredible talent on offer in East London’s street art scene.

And that’s a round up of a few of my favourite murals on Hanbury Street. It’s a unique street in the heart of hipster Shoreditch. The scenery is always changing and you’re guaranteed to find some London’s best street art in this area.

As always, graffiti lovers & artists, add comments, share your favourite street art spots, and any info I’ve missed. Peace x

Back in Bristol

STIK Nelson Street

Following on from my last blog post about Banksy hunting in London I thought I’d do another quick post on the Bristolian artist.

I’ve just returned from a weekend retreat in the west country and I’m pleased to say I was able to hunt down one of Banksy’s newest pieces,  ‘The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum’.

It’s over a year since I was last in Bristol and it was good to be back. It’s a city I hold close to my heart and I love spending time there. If I didn’t like east London so much then I’d consider moving over that way.

There’s only one or two Banksy’s still left for me to find in the west country and last weekend it was my intention to find the piece he did at the back end of 2014. Most of the Banksy work I’ve found has been a few years old so it feels pretty good to find something more recent.

I’ll get onto the Banksy piece shortly, but first I’m going to talk about some of my other favourite Bristol sights from the weekend.

One of the coolest areas in Bristol is a place called Stokes Croft. It’s not far from the city centre and up there you’ll find some incredible street art. It’s a really laid back area full of some really friendly folk, vintage shops, independent shops, lots of graffiti and a Banksy or two.

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Iconic street art in Stokes Croft by Columbian artist Stinkfish.

The Prince of Wales pub in Stokes Croft was one place that caught my eye, so much so that I had to go in for a pint.

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One place in Bristol city centre that’s home to some massive murals is Nelson Street. I’ve spoke about this street in a previous blog post but it’s worth mentioning again. On my return to Nelson Street I was gutted to see that one of my favourite building’s in Bristol has now been torn down.

RIP colourful building

Nelson street street art

Superhero mural by SatOne

Nelson Street was used as part of the city’s See No Evil street art festival in 2011 and 2012 where Germany’s SatOne painted this colourful mural (above), and a whole host of other artists from around the world got involved; including Stik, ROA, Otto Schade, My Ayrz and Pixel Pancho, to name a few.

This area was one of the reasons I fell in love with street art and if it wasn’t for the graffiti on Nelson Street I wouldn’t be sat here writing about urban art. Luckily some of my favourite Nelson Street work was still there:

Work by Mr Ayrz and Stik

Work by Mr Ayrz and Stik

Another great piece I was pleased to see still standing:

Work by Italian artist Pixel Pancho

Work by Italian artist Pixel Pancho

Bristol’s newest Banksy 

Banksy’s ‘Girl with the Pierced Eardrum’ can be found on the side of a building on Hanover Place (BS1 6XT) in the Albion Dockyard.

It’s about a 30 minute venture from the bottom of Park Street (where you can still find Banksy’s ‘Well Hung Lover’) and it’s not far from where his famous Grim Reaper used to be, on the side of the Thekla boat and nightclub.

The walk to find Banksy’s latest hometown piece is pretty scenic and you get some really stunning views of the harbour. If you’re into photography and architecture then I recommend having a good wonder around this area.

Bristol harbour

After a stroll down the harbour taking in plenty of sea air and scenery you’ll be getting closer to an outstanding piece of street art.

Banksy’s ‘Girl with the Pierced Eardrum’ can be found on the rear of the white building on Hanover Place and it’s a truly remarkable piece. He might have taken inspiration from the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, but he does it in his own style. Banksy has added his own unique spin on this piece using the alarm on the wall as the girl’s earring.

This is probably my favourite Banksy to date; one because it’s the most recent piece I’ve found meaning I’ve stood on pretty fresh ground (which makes me happy). And two, because of the condition of the piece, and although some idiot tried to ruin it by throwing paint on it, it actually added more character to the painting.

The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum by Banksy 

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When I was taking a few (hundred) snaps of this piece there was some old dears sat having an ice cream a few hundred yards behind me on a picnic bench. Whilst I was trying to find the right angle to capture this beauty I heard them saying ‘oooh I wonder what he’s taking pictures of’. If only they knew that the work in their presence was worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The fact that I was the only person there appreciating the Banksy made the moment even more special. No crowds, graffiti tours or tourists, just me.

So that’s it from my short break in Bristol, if you haven’t been there yet, you should.

As always, graffiti lovers & artists, add comments, share your favourite Banksy’s, and any info I’ve missed. Peace x

Paris street art part 1: crepes, croissants, l’escargot and graffiti

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Bonjour mesdames et messieurs. Another city that should be on the bucket list of every urban art enthusiast is Paris.

It’s the city of romance, exquisite food and fine wines; a place where millions of tourists flock every year to see sights like Notré Dam, Sacré Coeur, le Eiffel Tower, le Pantheon, Musee du Louvre and the magnifique architecture that spreads across a vast landscape…

The French capital has an incredible street art scene – it’s an urban playground for top artists like OBEY, C215, Monsieur Diamond, Monsieur Chat, VHILS, Nemo, Invader, Alexis Diaz and a whole host of others.

Finding street art en Francais

The city of Paris is absolutely massive and you could easily spend all day aimlessly wondering from one place to the next while getting lost in its beautiful, yet narrow streets. So if you’ve never been before and you want to find some graffiti, I highly recommend taking a street art tour – check out undergroundparis.org.

The tour takes you around the streets of Belleville and Ménilmontant and introduces you to a lot of local artists and Paris’s urban art scene. Like other cities, some of the street art is commissioned (they even have their own graffiti association) and the rest is as illegal as lighting up a joint in Buckingham Palace.

As with my other posts I’ll be doing a few about Paris as there’s so much street art to talk about. I might even tell you where to go to experience some proper Parisian cuisine too (I know that’s why you’re really here!).

Belleville street art 

My first taste of the urban art in Paris was in the Belleville district. There’s plenty of incredible graffiti to find in this area including a massive piece from the 1980s and a street where it’s legal to do as much graffiti as you like… yes you read that right – legal.

The following pictures are some of the best street art findings in the Belleville area…

Paris Mural

One of many murals commissioned by the street art association

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Can you spot an iconic OBEY?

Work by Monsieur Diamond, Monsieur BMX,

On this wall you can see work by Monsieur Diamond, Monsieur BMX, Mega Matt (similar style to Invader)  and Mister P (furthest left).

Trademark street art carving by VHILS.

Trademark street art carving by VHILS. Also on Rue Fontaine au Roi.

Mural on Rue Lemon by Alexis Diaz

Mural on Rue Lemon by Alexis Diaz

At the top of Rue Lemon you’ll find Rue Dénoyez aka the graffiti street. This is the street where it’s legal to carry out as much tagging and spraying as you like. As you can imagine it’s plastered with urban art and it’s probably the most colourful street I’ve ever seen.

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When you reach the end of the graffiti street you’ll come to Rue de Belleville. It’s a pretty steep hill but once you reach the top it’s well worth it. Walking up this street gives you a real taste of this multi-cultural, diverse area.

Here you’ll find the famous ‘detective’ piece by artist Jean Le Gac which went up on the walls in 1986 – 29 years prior to my visit to Paris and two years before I was born.

There’s another massive piece of urban art in this area by Ben Vautier (Ben 93) that depicts two life-size puppets lowering a blackboard that says ‘Il faut se méfier des mots’ which translates to ‘beware of words‘.

Huge detective piece by Jean Le Gac

Huge detective piece by Jean Le Gac

'Beware of words' by Ben 93.

‘Beware of words’ by Ben 93.

Another good urban art spot is at the top of Parc de Belleville. It’s the ‘highest elevated’ park in Paris and it’s a bit of a climb to the top, but once you get there the view is breathtaking.

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The view of Paris from the Parc de Belleville. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day but you can still see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

When you finally get reach the park’s summit you’ll find some amazing street art on the viewing platform by an artist who goes by the name Seth. He’s got a unique style and his work is really impressive, and highly ‘instagrammable.’

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Once you’ve filled up your iPhone with beautiful pictures of Paris (and graffiti) from the viewing platform there’s still a lot more street art to find in Belleville.

Before I finish off the first part of my Paris street art blogging bonanza there’s one more piece I’d like to share. It’s by Spanish street artist El Pez and his ‘feel good’ style can be found in many European cities (I’ve seen a lot of his work in east London).

El Pez's feel good graffiti

El Pez’s feel good graffiti

In my next Paris street art blog I’ll cover more urban art in the Belleville area as well as work by Invader, Shepard Fairey and others… and where to go to eat some pretty good snails.

Graffiti lovers & artists, please add comments, share your favourite pieces in Paris, and add any info I’ve missed.

#jesuischarlie

Peace x

Berlin street art: Part 2

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Hallo again, welcome back to my street art blog.

As there’s so much amazing urban art in Berlin, inevitably it was impossible I’d be able to write about it in one post. I could go on for hours about the place and there’d be still more to I want to say. So I’ll try not to go on too much, and instead just show you some of my favourite pieces of art in Kreuzberg and the surrounding areas.

Although it was last May when I went to Berlin, I still can’t get over how good it was and if I could live anywhere else in the world then Deutschland would be the place for me.

Other than lots of incredible street art, one of the most memorable things about Berlin was Sachsenhausen – the concentration camp just north of the city. It was a harsh reminder of what happened less than 100 years ago, and quite a chilling experience.

If you’re planning a trip over to Berlin and if you’re looking for things to do other than hunting graffiti, stick that on your ‘to do list’.

Anyway, moving away from the touristy side of things and back to street art – if you head over to Schlesisches Tor on the U-Bahn you’ll find yourself in a pretty good location to start the day.

If you walk towards the Berlin Wall, along Oberbaumstraße and towards the bridge you’ll see some absolutely huge pieces of art, including this guy:

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As you walk along the bridge you’ll have a pretty stunning view of the city and you’ll see The Berlin Tower in the distance (also worth a trip to the top).

View of Berlin Tower

At the end of the bridge on the left hand side of the street you’ll find what remains of the Berlin Wall. What used to separate East and West Germany is now a gallery full of urban art for all to see.

It takes a good while to walk down the remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall and each different section tells its own story. There’s a mixture of different styles and it’s pretty awe-inspiring.

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Back in the heart of Kreuzberg street art is everywhere. Round every street corner you’re guaranteed to find some brilliant works of graffiti.

Here’s some of my favourite finds in Kreuzberg:

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Astronout graff

The next two pieces of huge street art were about a ten minute walk from  Schlesisches Tor, opposite a street called Cuvrystraße. Now Berlin is home to quite a lot of homeless people (like every capital city) and around this area there seemed to be more than usual.

Opposite Cuvrystraße was a massive commune of people living off the street. It was surrounded by massive walls and over the top you could see open burning fires, huts and kids running about. There were people going in with shopping trollies full of junk, no one looked particularly poor – more like hippies living off the land.

Anyway this little section of land looked pretty intimidating from the outside and I was worried if I went in flashing my iPhone it might not see the light of day after. But had I not entered I would not have been able to capture this incredible street art, definitely the most memorable of my street art captures from Kreuzberg…

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Graffiti lovers & artists, please add comments, share your favourite pieces in Berlin, and add any info I’ve missed.

Peace x