Spectacular Street Art on The Alternative London Walking Tour

An Alternative London Walking Tour

Life in London rushes by with the skyline changing on a daily basis but nowhere is that change as rapid as in the East End. At the western edge of Tower Hamlets, an area known for its socio-economic difficulties and generations of immigrants, the City’s relentless development overshadows an area that is changing in its own way too.

The first time I went on an Alternative London Tour was five years ago and I cannot believe how much the area has changed. The streets are different with new restaurants and trendy boutique stores opening but a completely new layer of street art exists today. Looking back on my photos from that day, I recognised only three pieces of art that exist to this day.

Keir from Alternative London

Earlier this month, Stephen, Sarah and I signed up for an Alternative London Tour with tour guide Keir and we had a fantastic time. To show you just how much new street art there is, I’ll share 13 new pieces along with 3 that have featured on this blog before.

Nooshinism by Paul Don Smith

A portrait of Nooshinism by Paul Don Smith, located on Wilkes Street.

Neoh Ballerina

Ballerina by Neoh, painted over by a very naughty young tagger called 5 Foot.


One of my favourite pieces by Stik, which I previously featured in Stick figures, Aliens and Wild Creatures in East London.

Dale Grimshaw - Hanbury Street

This phenomenal mural by Dale Grimshaw is located on Hanbury Street, just off Brick Lane and was painted in support of the Free West Papua Campaign. This was both Sarah’s and my favourite piece of the tour.

Martin Ron and Roa's Crane on Hanbury Street

Roa’s Crane has featured on this blog before but the new work by Martin Ron hasn’t. It depicts a man doing a hand stand on one arm and it is pretty impressive. These works were both allowed by the owner of the building.

Invader Truman Breweries

The artist at the bottom of this photo is Space Invader and this is quite an old piece. You’ll see a brand new mosaic by him at the end of the post.

Klet Quaker Street

Klet is rising in fame (or notoriety) in urban areas around the world based on his cheeky amendments to street signs. This cheeky addition on the corner of Brick Lane and Quaker Street just happens to promote the Alternative London Tour too!


I quite liked this mural by Zabou featuring a pair of spray-paint wielding street art heroines.

Charlie Burns by Ben Slow

I loved this work by Ben Slow who you might recall because he was the street artist who took us on the last Alternative London Tour I went on in 2012. This piece is a memorial for Charlie Burns who lived on Bacon Street in the East End for his entire life. When he eventually passed away in 2015 at the age of 97, this mural was done outside one of his propoerties. If you look closely, you can see the reflection of Truman Breweries in his eyes.

Ben Slow's Charlie Burns

Sarky & Bitches

All too soon, we were on the home stretch of the tour. Here is a very interesting piece by a female street artist. I’m almost certain Keir said she was called Sarky & Bitches but I can’t find anything about her online. Nevertheless, the artist encountered this derelict building and went home and created her devil she-cats in the studio before returning, slipping them under the bars and nailing them to the wall. Pretty ingenious.

The Conspiracy

I really liked this lifelike vampire by The Conspiracy.

Shoreditch Lovelocks

The lovelocks in Shoreditch are like all others but I enjoyed this lock with a tiny piece of street art on it. I’m a tiny bit annoyed because I’m almost certain I know who the artist is but I can’t figure it out.

Numb by Alo

Sarah and I both enjoyed spotting works by this artist Alo and we especially enjoyed this work called “Numb”.

New Spaced Invader London

Our final spot of the day was this brand new gentleman invader by Space Invader. It is interesting to see how much his style has changed over the years.

This is the third Alternative London Walking Tour that I’ve joined so needless to say, I enjoy them and I would very much recommend them. The tours are operate on a Pay What You Want basis and you pay however much you thought the tour was worth at the end of the tour. Tours take place from Monday to Saturday and you must book ahead on the Alternative London website to secure a spot. The company also offer East London Bike Tours and Street Art Tour and Graffiti Workshops.

Which was your favourite piece? Have you ever been on a street art tour in another city?

Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition London

Leonardo da Vinci Mechanics of Genius

It’s no secret that I love museums and the Science Museum, London is one of my favourite museums in the world. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve visited the museum but each time I visit I discover new and exciting treasures of science and technology. Most recently, I went to see the Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius exhibition which is on until 4 September 2016.

My verdict? Go see it.

Leonardo da Vinci is most famous for his works of art such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper but he was also an inventor and scientist. Many of us will be familiar with his drawings of flying machines and anatomy but Leonardo da Vinci developed a radical body of work relating to flight, manufacturing and war too.  

Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition Science Museum

Many of da Vinci’s ideas were merely conceptual but quite incredible when you consider that he did his drawings 400 years before the industrial revolution and the age of flight. In 1952, to mark the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s birth, 39 stunning three dimensional models of da Vinci work were created, including flying machines, diving apparatus and weapons.

These models are now on display at the Science Museum as part of the Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius exhibition alongside 13 Interactive games and 10 multimedia installations, making this a treat for adults and children alike.

Rather than spoil the exhibition, I’m going to tell you about my highlights and heartily recommend that you visit before the exhibition closes in September.

Model of Leonardo da Vinci Crossbow

The da Vinci Crossbow was massive and would dwarf a human being. In his drawings, da Vinci imagined the crossbow would be wheeled in and measure 27 yards across!

Model of Leonardo da Vinci Self-Propelled Vehicle

Long considered the forerunner to the motor car, da Vinci’s self-propelled vehicle utilised a highly complex system of gears and springs to achieve motion.

Leonardo da Vinci text

Da Vinci’s handwriting.

Model of Leonardo da Vinci Webbed Glove

Da Vinci imagined that his webbed glove would be worn from the wrist. I’m not quite certain he ever tried this one out – from my experience of swimming with clothes on, I’m pretty sure that would have been difficult to achieve.

Model of Leonardo da Vinci Underwater Breathing Aparatus

This is da Vinci’s underwater breathing apparatus which he designed to caulk hulls without the need to move the vessels on to the bank. One of the tubes would have been used to supply fresh air to the diver and the other would have removed the exhaled air.

Model of Leonardo da Vinci Spring Catapult and Armoured Vehicle

Above you can see da Vinci’s spring catapult and a section of his armoured vehicle. The catapult is clearly inspired by a trebuchet but the armoured vehicle is astounding and a clear forerunner for tanks and other armoured vehicles. Eight men would have been needed to operate the tank through a series of gears attached to four wheels which isn’t entirely unlike the motion of modern day tanks.

Model of Leonardo da Vinci Flying Machine

Naturally, it was the section on flying machines that most captured my interest and imagination. Don’t let my photos deceive you – the area was very popular amongst my fellow attendees too but somehow I managed to give the impression that I was the only person there.

Above you can see da Vinci’s flying vessel and below, his flying machine with beating wings. Based on his observation of birds, the machine used a series of springs to intimate the movement of their wings and the mechanism was based in part on his work on the crossbow.

Model of Leonardo da Vinci Glider

Da Vinci designed a parachute too but it was the aerial screw that was most unique. Based on his observations of maple, elm or ash seeds, da Vinci designed a device that would cover considerable distances by twisting in the air.

Model of Leonardo da Vinci Parachute and Aerial Screw

Da Vinci’s focus on nature often came to the fore in his architectural drawings too, for example in this design of a church with a budding structure. If you looked at the model from above, it looked just like a daisy.

Church with Budding StructureLeonardo da Vinci Science Museum

Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius runs at the Science Museum, London until 4 September 2016 and is highly recommended. Tickets are £10 and can be booked on the Science Museum Leonardo page.

The Science Museum
Exhibition Road
South Kensington

I'd like to thank the Science Museum for inviting me to the exhibition and for never failing to impress with their exhibitions.

The New Look

You might have noticed that things are looking a little different around here at Emm in London. Read all about the new design in Blog Has Got a Brand New Look (warning: post may end up with you dancing around the kitchen to cheesy 90s dance music).

Silhouettes, Brunch and Views at the Sky Garden

Silhouettes at  the Sky Garden

In the book P.S. I Love You, H. Jackson Brown’s mother says to him, "twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do”. I tend to have a more zen approach to life and live without bucket lists or regrets but I did have one regret and it was that I didn’t charge my iPhone the first time I visited the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street in London.

When you first arrive at the 34th floor of the Sky Garden, you exit the lift, turn to your right and can’t help but have your breath taken away by the view. That is a good experience, one that shouldn’t be marred by utter disappointment as your phone (or camera) shuts down. Despite that simple regret, my first visit was ultimately quite incredible – without camera in hand to distract me, I was able to sit for a full hour and simply experience my surroundings. It was magical in its own way.

My second visit was far more satisfying for it involved friends, brunch and a working camera. Bright and early one Saturday morning, Stephen and I bundled off to London at the crack of dawn and met up with Melissa, Kara, Davide, Yannick, Emma and Richard at the foot of the Sky Garden. We travelled up in the lift and I was able to watch the expressions of those visiting for the first time. It is indeed a special place.

Steel structures from the Sky Garden

The Sky Garden is a green space located right at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, known as the Walkie Talkie building, in London. You might recall seeing the building in the news because of its summer heat ray or the fact that it won the Carbuncle Cup in 2015 for the worst designed building of the year. I can honestly say that I am not a detractor – 20 Fenchurch Street is one of my favourite buildings in London and it has long surpassed the Shard as my favourite example of modern architecture. You can see photos of the exterior of the building in the posts Winter's Return and An End is a Beginning.

The Gardens of the Sky Garden

The Sky Garden was conceptualised as a green space at the top of the building, perhaps to compensate for the building’s massive footprint. There is certainly less green than in the original architect’s drawings but the Sky Garden is a beautiful, calm oasis in the centre of the City.

And the views….

The View from the Sky Garden

The Sky Garden

Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden

Our destination for the morning was the Darwin Brasserie. Stephen and I opted for the Ultimate Breakfast option for £22. This included an unlimited continental buffet where we took advantage of fresh juices, pastries, yoghurt, nuts, cereal and fresh fruit.

Full Engllish Breakfast at Darwin Brasserie

Stephen chose a full English breakfast as his main dish and I chose a delicious poached egg and smashed avocado on toast.

Poached Eggs and Smashed Avocado at Darwin Brasserie

The Thames from the Sky Garden

With our tummies full, it was time to explore more of the Sky Garden and to chat and laugh with friends.

The Cheese Grater and the Gherkin from the Sky Garden

The Shard  from the Sky Garden

Tower Bridge and City Hall  from the Sky Garden

I really enjoyed our time at the Sky Garden and would definitely like to visit again. I’d love the company so do let me know if you’re keen on joining me!

Sky Garden
20 Fenchurch St

Cost: free of charge!

Advance booking: You don’t need to book ahead if you have a reservation at any of the three restaurants at the Sky Garden but you can also book ahead by visiting Sky Garden Tickets.