Street Art needs walls! Whether its Shoreditch or Spitalfields, street art may hang on hoardings, stick to street signs, augment adverts, decorate doors or flourish on flyposters but wondering at walls is the main thing on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour. Walls beg a secondary purpose (wink) and minds distracted from art may dwell on fortuitous factors such as boundary, division, shelter, protection, property, privacy and possibly even more – where would windows hang if not framed in walls?
We pass a lot of walls on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour and a lot of wondering what lies within and behind those walls occurs. Today the good people behind the doors of 8 Spitalfields properties invited the world in to see their urban gardens and we were delighted and fascinated.
Close by, Brick Lane teems with colour, noise and life but within these private Spitalfields spaces there is serenity, tranquillity and a sense of calm seclusion. There is also tremendous inventiveness and creativity in the use of tiny scraps of urban space. “Nothing but rubble below this paving” said one owner in his back garden; “foundations 5 brick deep” said the owner of another 1740s silk merchant’s property.
All the properties visited lie within the Fournier St and Brick Lane Conservation Area with the exception of the offices of The society For The Protection of Ancient Buildings at,37 Spital Square which is in the Elder St Conservation Area. All except one of the properties is Grade II listed. Whilst fascinated by history, Shoreditch Street Art Tours makes no claim to being historians. There are some fascinating reads to be found online which provide contest for the historical development of Spitalfields and its properties, such as “The Hugenots Of Spitalfields” website, the Spitalfields Trust and the Spitalfields Neighbourhood Planning Forum website
The Spitalfields gardens were open as a group as part of the National Garden Scheme open day programme which clearly does great work raising funds for a variety of charities and we are grateful to the residents for opening their doors to provide such a fascinating insight to parts of Spitalfields not normally accessible by the public.
For those of you who explore the outsides with us, here is a collection of photos that is a bit horticulture, a bit architecture, a bit nosy-parker but mostly a record of a nice opportunity to view Spitalfield’s insides, withins and behinds.
All photos: Dave Stuart