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Art, Travel, UK

Shoreditch London Street Art Tour

November 19, 2018

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

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Since I started traveling, I have noticed street art around the world. Last year, I wandered around East London admiring the street art of Shoreditch. However, I really wanted to know more about it, so this year I went on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour through Airbnb Experiences. I also invited Suzie from Suzie Speaks along as we always enjoy a good catch-up when I am in London.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

A Brief Background on Street Art

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

Many modern street artists are former graffiti artists. Graffiti is defined as drawing or writing on a flat surface. Graffiti is not a recent invention, though. Ancient graffiti has been found in Pompeii and Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Even ancient graffiti was illicit, so the artist had to be fast in order not to be caught. For the modern artist, this led to learning to develop excellent freehand skills. This is why so many graffiti artists have become outstanding street artists.

So what is the difference between street art and graffiti? Graffiti wasn’t always for public consumption in the beginning. Graffiti artists were sometimes in it to outdo other graffiti artists. The graffiti would be put in obscure spots and many times out of the public eye. You see examples of these on bridge overpasses. Street art is usually in very public spaces. Also, street art isn’t always just made up of spray paint, and many mediums may be used in one piece.

In my opinion, the rise and acceptance of street art has led to the acceptance of graffiti as art. Although, most graffiti is still done without permission as is some street art. In recent years, street art has gained even more credibility due to the popularity of artists like Banksy. Many artists have had their works shown in galleries and street art galleries have sprung up as well.

The Tour

Dean was our tour guide for this art walk around Shoreditch. He has been around the London street art scene since he was 11! Needless to say, he knew so much about every piece we saw. I don’t think I have run across a tour guide with so much enthusiasm as Dean. It was like he was giving the tour for the first time.

It became apparent that this tour would be different when he brought us to the first piece on the tour. Dean began to explain the history of the piece by AKAJimmyC. The piece had been created with large dots that when layered upon themselves became the art we now see. Much to my surprise, the first art was a portrait. The artist had asked permission from the shop if he could paint the wall, for free no less. So that the piece would have meaning for the shop, he painted a portrait of the owner and his daughter. The store has since been sold, but the new owners were happy for the piece to remain as is and even commissioned the artist to paint a wall inside.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

While this piece was not the largest of the street art we saw on the tour, it represented the passion shown by street artists and the dedication they have to their craft. It also spoke to the craftsmanship of a street artist. The portrait made by dots reminded me of Impressionism with a modern take. But the focus of the piece told me the artist is thoughtful of the neighborhood they seek to embellish with their art.

Dean continued to impress me with his knowledge of the street art we were seeing. He knows the history of most of the pieces and the artist. Because street art tends to be transient in nature the piece can disappear. Although some smaller pieces tend to remain. Another thing that Dean did that added to the tour was showing us the artist’s Instagram accounts. Many of these artists have art all over the world, and we could see them this way, but it also showed how some have improved their skills and evolved as an artist.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

Last year, I saw a stunning piece that I loved, and I was looking forward to learning more about it. Sadly, it has been painted over since I was in London last. In fact, the wall has been painted over three times since. One time it was done without permission, and that is when the piece was lost. However, the new piece is also a fantastic portrait by the street artist Mr. Cenz. We saw several pieces of street art by this particular artist along the tour.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

Some of the best pieces would be hard to find without a guide. Down a quiet street, which is hard to find in Shoreditch, Dean took us down an alleyway to show us a large piece that was done entirely by freehand done by artist Fanakapan. I had no idea that many street artists will draw the piece small and then project it onto the wall and then painted it. It definitely makes me appreciate the free hand done ones even more.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

Of course, many places still think of street art as just harmful graffiti and not as art. Many of these street artists started as taggers and graffiti artists and have grown into the amazing artists we see today. As with beauty, art is in the eye of the beholder and street art is just the same. Society is slowly changing its attitude towards street art and even graffiti. Many cities around the world have become organic museums.

What do you think of street art? Do you have any favorite pieces?

Here are links to the other street artists Instagram that are featured.

BKFoxx

Phlegm

Envol Studio

Art, Museums, Travel, UK

10 Things to do in Brighton

September 4, 2017

Brighton

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Brighton was the highlight of my trip to the UK. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that it is next to the sea. I am always happier when there is an ocean nearby. Having seen photos, I knew I wanted to go. However, I wasn’t sure what there was to do in Brighton. After doing some research, I decided I needed two days in Brighton in order to see everything. Here are 10 things to do in Brighton.

1. Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Even though I had no idea what to expect, I always have to hit the local museum where every I am. Brighton was no exception. The museum is an interesting mix of decorative arts, local history and art. One of my favorite parts was the exhibition of performance. It had pieces from all over the world related to performance. I also discovered an artist I had not heard of before, John Constable and very much enjoyed his work. There was a temporary exhibition focused on his Brighton works. However, I wasn’t allowed to take photos.

Brighton

2. Royal Pavilion

Built by King George IV when he was Prince of Wales as a pleasure palace. The palace was built in an elaborate style with an Asian flair. Although not in actual Asian style. Each room gets more and more ornate. Another place in which no photographs were allowed, although to be fair, it would damage the decorations if everyone was to take photos. Definitely an unexpected surprise and one of the lesser known Royal Palaces in the UK.

Brighton

3. Brighton Beach

You can glimpse the beach as you walk down from the train station, but its true beauty is seen up close. The color of the water is stunning, especially for such a northern sea. The beach itself is pebbles and not sand, which has its advantages such as no sand in your shoes! The only thing you have to look out for is the aggressive seagulls, who will not hesitate to take you Avocado Chicken Pret Sandwich out of your hand! (Yes, I speak from experience!) If you are brave and are warm blooded enough, you can brave a dip in the water.

Brighton

4. Brighton Palace Pier

Whether arcade games are your thing or not, you must take a stroll on the Brighton Pier. It’s construction began in 1881 making it a historic structure as well. There are places to eat and games to play on the pier. I enjoyed looking at the water from this vantage point and watching the beach goers.

Brighton

5. Hove Beach Huts

The Hove Beach Huts are famous and a beautiful. They are quite a walk from Brighton, but you get to enjoy the amazing view of the sea along the way. Most of them were closed up when I was there and I think that was due to my midweek visit. However, it made for great photography opportunities.

Brighton

Brighton

6. Admire the Architecture

Along the way and back from the Hove beach huts, you can admire the architecture of Brighton and Hove. I am no architecture expert, but the terraced houses are pretty however out of place by the ocean they seem to be. Many of them have been turned into hotels now as they are probably hard to maintain as homes. A good reason to stay in one of those hotels so you can see inside.

Brighton

7. Eat Fish & Chips on the Beach

Fish and chips are quintessential British fare and a must on the Brighton Beach. I ate mine so fast I forgot to take a photo! A food blogger I am not.

8. Walk the Boardwalk

The ability to people watch and shop at the same time is a great reason to walk to the boardwalk in Brighton. There are art shops, beach supply shops and tons of gelato shops! Watching people play on the beach was also a fun site. You can also see the British Airways i360 from the Boardwalk and is a great way to see it if you are not brave enough to go up it.

 

Brighton

9. Watch the Sunset

The sunset in Brighton is spectacular. It sets in a way that highlights the boardwalk. Look towards the British Airways i360 and you can’t miss it. I enjoyed it from both the beach and the boardwalk.

Brighton

 

10. Check out the West Pier

You can’t help but notice the derelict pier in Brighton. The West Pier has experienced a series of disasters over the years and was opened before the Brighton Palace Pier in 1866. It is a haunting site and offers an excellent photography opportunity. It was my favorite subject in Brighton.

Brighton

 

I fell in love with Brighton and could have spent several more days there. What is your favorite thing to do in Brighton?

 

Art, Museums, Travel, UK

Museums of London

August 28, 2017

Museums of London

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

There are probably more than one hundred museums in London. It can be hard to see them all in a short visit and I didn’t see them all in the month I was there. So how do you choose which ones to visit? For me, it all depends on my interests. Here are the museums of London I saw and who I recommend each one for.

The British Museum

Museums of London

The British Museum is likely the most famous museum in the world. The museum holds artifacts from around the world, so the name is slightly deceiving. Its most famous artifact is the Rosetta Stone. However, it isn’t all artifacts, there is usually a special exhibition on. When I was there, the special exhibition was The Great Wave by Hokusai. If you enjoy world history or there is a special exhibition you want to see, I recommend a visit. However, it can be very crowded even on weekdays. Admission: Free except for special exhibitions

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Museums of London

The next most famous museum in London. I visited the V&A in high school with my Mom and we both remember it being our favorite place in London, so I just had to go back. This museum is an eclectic mix of art, fashion, architecture and decorative arts.  Since they collect in so many areas, there may be several special exhibitions going on at the same time. Anyone who enjoys fashion, architecture or design will enjoy this museum. It can be crowded in some sections of the museum and some were completely empty! Admission: Free except for special exhibitions

Textile and Fashion Museum

Museums of London

A friend recommended the Textile and Fashion Museum to me because of my interest in fashion. What I didn’t realize is they don’t have a permanent collection, so you only see one exhibition. When I was there, the exhibit was about fashion designer Anna Sui. So my advice is to check out the current exhibition before you go. This museum is probably only for the die-hard fashion fan. Admission: £9.90 with gift aid

The Geffrye Museum

Museums of London

The Geffrye Museum is billed as the museum of the home. I have always been curious as to the home lives of people of the past and this peaked my interest. Given the size of the museum, I expected more of a mock-up of each period. However, each mock-up was just the formal living room of each period. While still impressive, I was slightly disappointed. The museum also runs along a long narrow hallway, so it can be difficult to pass people in the museum. I recommend going around the back of the museum to the gardens. I only recommend this museum if you are very interested in historic homes. Admission: Free

The National Gallery

Museums of London

I managed to make it to the National Gallery on my last full day in London and it did not disappoint! It is full of historic masterpieces including, Monet, Van Gogh and Da Vinci. What I was really glad about is that each section was based on a time period and the highlights were listed on the map. Anyone who loves art or has an interest in a specific artist should visit the National Gallery. Admission: Free

Cutty Sark

Museums of London

Some may not call this a museum, but the Cutty Sark is a part of the Royal Museums Greenwich and is a separate entrance fee. I love boats and to be able to visit a historic clipper ship, I had to go! If you are a boat or maritime fan, then this is a must-see for you. Keep in mind that you have to climb up stairs to enter and get around the Cutty Sark. Admission: £13.50

The Queens Gallery

Museums of London

Right next door to the entrance to Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s Gallery. This museum offers rotating exhibitions throughout the year, which are sourced from the Royal Collection. This is another place that you will need to check the current exhibition to see if it is something you are interested in, but I recommend it if you have an interest in art. Due to it being the Queen’s Gallery, I recommend you get advance tickets otherwise you may have to wait sometime to get in. Admission: £11

Royal Academy of Arts

Museums of London

The draw of the Royal Academy of Art for me was the Summer Exhibition. This exhibit takes place annually and displays current artist’s work. This exhibit was huge and inspiring. There were all kinds of art on display. There was also another exhibition taking place. Each exhibition is a separate admission. This museum is an art lover’s dream museum. Admission: Varies

The Charterhouse

Museums of London

I actually saw a brochure for The Charterhouse in a pub! So those flyers in hotels and bars do work. The Charterhouse brochure caught my eye because it has been living the nation’s history since 1348! As a history lover, I had to go check it out. The Charterhouse is a working almshouse still today. The members have to be over 60 and in financial need. They help out in the museum and give tours. The members have kept excellent records over the years and they have a small museum. Tours are offered on a reservation basis. The Charterhouse just opened its doors to the public in January 2017, so it is a hidden gem among the museums of London. Admission: Free, tours are a fee

The London Wall

Museums of London

While technically this is not a museum, I am including The London Wall as I think it is a must see while in London. The London Wall is located just outside the Museum of London and that is how I ended up finding it. I never made it to the Museum of London. The wall was built by the Romans around 200 AD and is about two miles long. You can walk most of it, but the day I was there the gate at one of the towers was locked so I only saw a small portion. I could have walked around to the other side but it was getting dark and I thought I would get lost. Any history buff or Roman history expert will love this ruin. Admission: Free

The Tate Modern

Tate Modern

The Tate Modern was my first museum stop in London and I wrote a whole blog post about it here. I am not usually a fan of modern art, but I wanted to see the building. The art was excellent and I really enjoyed my time there. I recommend it for all art enthusiasts even if modern art isn’t your thing. Admission: Free except for special exhibitions

The Postal Museum

I had heard about the Postal Museum and wanted to visit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t open until September 4th, 2017! The museum is about mail delivery via subway trains in London. You will even be able to ride the mail train, which is what I really wanted to do. So if you get to London, go do this for me, please! Admission: Entry and Mail Rail ride £16, includes donation, entry only £11

What museums in London are your favorites?

Art, Italy, Museums, Travel

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

August 17, 2016
There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Don’t get me wrong, seeing the David in person is a wonderful experience and you should definitely see it. But there are over 72 museums (including churches and libraries) in Florence to explore! If you saw two a day, it would take you over a month to see them all. Since I only spent four days in Florence, I saw as many as I could. It was hard because around every corner it seemed like there was another one. Here are the ones I hit and the ones I want to see when I return (planning is in the works!).

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Museums Visited

Palazzo Vecchio – This museum isn’t just a museum. The mayor of Florence’s office is located here, and it is the seat of the City Council. Sign me up to run for local office if this is my office! The museum starts before you even enter the building in the with a replica statue of the David out front. The beautiful decorations begin in the first courtyard with its beautiful frescos. Unfortunately, I didn’t know you could tour the secret passages. I did get to see someone go through a hidden door in the Map Room.

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Museo Galileo – Walking down the Arno Riverbank towards the Ponte Vecchio, you can’t help but see the Museo Galileo due to the large sundial out front. I will say I was disappointed by this museum. This was mainly because I was expecting more on Galileo himself, but it is mostly a collection of scientific instruments. Many of them were very intriguing, but the labels only gave a title of the item and not what it was used for. Not the ideal for a non-science person. But if you are a science person, then this is the place for you! There must have been thousands of pieces on exhibit.

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Museo Gucci – This was the only museum I went to that you couldn’t get into with the Firenze Card, which is a 72-hour pass for most of the museums in Florence. The Gucci Museum takes you on a tour of the brand from the beginning of the label through its current designs for the red carpet. The only unfortunate thing is that you cannot take photos inside, but their website has great photos of the exhibition rooms.

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Uffizi Gallery – Beautiful architecture abounds in Florence and Uffizi Gallery is no exception. I would have gone in just to see the inside! However, everywhere you look there is art. Look up because much of it is on the ceiling. Also, look out the windows to see great views of Florence, including the Ponte Vecchio. Allow yourself a few hours as there is a lot to see and lots of people also trying to see it.

Palazzo Pitti – Looking more like a formidable fort than a palace, Palazzo Pitti is a huge museum now. The original building was started in 1458 by Luca Pitti, a banker. There are several museums inside the Pitti, and you can also get a ticket for the Boboli Gardens there. Bring your walking shoes as the Pitti is huge!

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Museo dell’Opera del Duomo – This magnificent museum has been renovated. Did you love the outside of the Duomo and the Baptistry? Then you will love this place because it features the original decoration and the gold doors of the Baptistry. Didn’t know you were looking at replicas? Sorry to burst your bubble. However, you can get much closer to the carvings and figures in this museum. The attached coffee shop is a great place to rest after seeing the Duomo and the museum.

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Museo Salvatore Ferragamo – The ultimate shoe lover’s museum. While the museum is small, it is dark and moody just like fashion. There are several decades of Ferragamo shoes on exhibit and foot molds of famous people. The museum was running a temporary exhibition at the time that featured some famous clothing designers as well. They do let you take photos, and there is free wifi, which is good because it’s in the basement with no signal.

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Accademia Gallery – As I stated early, you still need to see the David while in Florence. Get the pass or buy your tickets in advance. Even with an advanced ticket, I had to wait in line for a bit. Be prepared for crowds inside. Do not go on the first Sunday of the month, as admission is free and the line will be even longer.

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Medici Chapel – The chapel screams opulence that the Medicis family is known for. The Cappella dei Principi is an array of marble and stones of every known color. However, you wouldn’t know it from the outside as it looks like an abandoned building from the outside.

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Museum Wish List

With 72 museums and counting, it will take me years of visits to Florence to see them all. However, I am already stalking the ones I didn’t get to visit.

Museo Nazionale del Bargello – The building called to me every time I walked past it, but I was already on a set path for the day. I didn’t even know what was in it until I looked up when I returned home. The main collection consists mostly of sculptures. Sculpture doesn’t attract me much, but it was once a prison, and that is worth seeing.

Basilica of Santa Croce -My white whale! Every time I tried to visit, it was closed. That is the bad planner in me and the fact that a historic football game was being played both weekends. Having read about the Basilica in the book “Dark Water,” which explores the floods of Florence, I knew I needed to visit it. Better planning will allow me to capture her next time!

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Vasari Corridor – The mysterious walkway from the Uffizi to the Palazzo Pitti. It tempted me from the Uffizi and heckled me from above on the Ponte Vecchio. Now, I know I can actually walk it. You have to book a private tour to see it, though.

There is More to Florence Museums than the David

Museo del Bigallo – Located in the same Piazza as the Palazzo Vecchio, this was another building that intrigued me. Not only that but the sign said free. Learning more about it, there are some stunning frescos inside that I will inspect next time.

I have intentionally kept the wish list small as I love the art of discovery while traveling. This leaves me room to stumble upon a place and truly enjoy it without expectations.

What museums in Florence are your favorites? Share with us in the comments.