As the UK’s tallest street art mural nears completion in Leeds, we asked the author of Lonely Planet’s Street Art, Ed Bartlett, to let us in on the other Brit cities providing a splash of quality graffiti colour.
We’re not talking messy tags on railway bridges; from photo-realism to surreal cartoons, this is beautiful, unique and often ever-changing artwork in public spaces for everyone to enjoy.
So if you’re an appreciator of public art or simply can’t resist a good Insta opportunity, cast an eye over his top six recommendations to catch some of the best spray-can talent the UK has to offer.
Scotland has its share of beautiful street art and Aberdeen is the city to visit: “Not the first place you might expect to see street art flourish, but the recent sponsored_longform with Nuart Festival in Norway has seen a raft of exciting new works appear from the likes of Herakut, Alice Pasquini, Fintan Magee and Scottish-born artist Robert Montgomery.”
Manchester is home to a ridiculous amount of beautiful artwork, from home-grown artists as well as international names: “Manchester’s Northern Quarter is worth a visit for lots of reasons, and in 2016 a series of large scale murals from international names such as Faith47, Pichiavo and Hyuro added another good one. They were painted as part of the Cities of Hope project, which allowed artists to create work bringing attention to key global issues important to them.”
Bartlett says Brighton has always been a cultural hub, and artists flock there to paint. “The scene there is dominated more by traditional graffiti, and even the street art has more of a raw feel than nearby London. It’s almost impossible to wander the streets without finding something of interest, from complex ‘wildstyle’ graffiti to stickers, stencils and paste-ups from both local and international artists.”
Bristol may have spawned a very famous artist (and thus countless imitators), but Bartlett says the city has plenty to hold your interest: “Bristol has more to offer than just Banksy, although a few of his works still remain in the city. The annual Upfest Festival in Bedminster just reached its crowdfunding target for 2017, meaning that the end of July will see literally hundreds of artists descend on the city to paint together.”
No graff list would be complete without the capital, which boasts a huge range of styles from several different artists: “London has long been one of the key global cities for street art. And whilst Shoreditch has long been sanitised, there is still an ever-changing palette of works to be seen, both here and further afield. It’s also home to a raft of key names from the scene, as well as galleries like Stolenspace and Jealous.”
Bartlett says Newcastle has an important place in street art history, and is well worth a visit: “Newcastle has long been a street art hotspot – the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art was one of the first major art institutions to host a street art exhibition in 2006, predating the Tate Modern by two years. There is much to be seen on the city streets, including the mosaics of French artist Invader.”