Last week I went on a street art tour of East London as a guest of Get Your Guide, a website and app that offer a choice of over 20,000 things to do around the world. Obviously as a fan of both street art and East London I’d been looking forward to this ever since the invitation had dropped into my inbox.

Adam recently explained how going on a guided tour of Lisbon soon after he arrived in the city for the first time ultimately made him feel less like a tourist (you can read it here if you missed it). I was curious to see if going on a guided tour in my home city, in an area I know well, could make me see London differently.

The met at the Alternative London Bus, a static London bus that’s been given a street art makeover and parked up in the Red market, a street food market near Old Street. It was a Tuesday evening so the market was closed, very different to the last time I visited, on a Friday evening, when it was packed with people tucking into street food and getting their drink on.

Our tour guide was Keir, who hails from Perth, and when he’s not leading street art tours is, “A creative that sometimes works outside.” Hmm, I wonder if that’s what Banksy has on his passport?! Keir was the perfect guide, clearly passionate about street art and extremely knowledgeable too. We followed him up Rivington Street as he chatted away.

Suddenly he stopped and told us to look down at the pavement, where he pointed out a piece by Ben Wilson who paints teeny tiny pieces of art on squashed pieces of chewing gum. Sounds gross, but it was actually really cool and amazingly detailed. I love knowing I’ve seen something the majority of people will have walked past, stepped over or even on, or otherwise ignored. Keir went on to tel us a bit about Ben’s history and gives us a chance to ask questions and take pictures.

For the next hour or so we wandered up Rivington Street and back down Bateman’s Row, discussing issues raised by street art and stopping as Keir pointed out key pieces and giving us some background to the artists behind them, including Dr Zadok, Stik, Banksy, Noir, Ben Eine, Mighty Mo, Oker, Space Invader and Obey.

Back at the bus and it was time for us to channel our inner Banksys. After a quick tutorial from Keir (including the optimum distance away from the wall to spray from and how much pressure to apply) we pulled on blue rubber gloves (I wonder if Banksy wears rubber gloves? – doubt it) and got to work, starting with a simple tag to get the hang of things, then using a variety of household objects such as a plastic draining mat with holes in to spray through, before moving on to more complicated stencils.

Finally we got the chance to use our new-found skills to decorate plain tote bags. I gave mine a tropical vibe with palm trees and pineapples. Very Rock My Style, I thought. I’m not sure if I was high on paint fumes at this point, but there was definitely a moment I considered jacking it all in to become a street artist, completely disregarding my total lack of artistic talent.

All too soon the tour was over (we were on a special short taster tour the street art tour’s normally four hours) but in just a couple of hours I saw some street art I’d never seen before, learned loads and had a lot of fun too. I definitely plan to give Get Your Guide a whirl next time I’m in a city and am looking for something to do, I think it would be great if you’re travelling alone or to find alternative things to do that you might not otherwise stumble across.

Anyone else used Get Your Guide or any other tour sites or apps? Do share!

[ezcol_divider][ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]cosmo-awards-rock-my-style-best-lifestyle-blog[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_2third_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

Vote for us in the Best Lifestyle Blog Category

We are so pleased to be shortlisted in the Best Lifestyle Blog category in the Cosmopolitan Awards 2014 in association with Next! Thank you to everyone who nominated us… All we ask now is that you vote for us! It literally only takes 10 seconds…[raw]