Believe it or not, I first heard of Banksy's street art when I arrived in London over a year ago. It's funny and disconcerting how, when living in New York, you may think you know all there is to know about art, but actually, you don't know squat. Well, not that Banksy is a genius to equivocate with Bacon or Rothko, but at least he is a pioneer in some way. Born and emerging from the underground scene in Bristol, his art is at once fun and serious. He depicts scenes of war, street crime, simple day to day stuff and other anecdotal situations. His graffiti has been known to attract art lovers like you and me who feel an emotional connection to it, just because it's fun and symbolic of London's funky art scene- and also because it can be cheap, very cheap (£50 or less for a small print). It is also known to appeal to the wealthier art aficionados, like Brad Pitt and other Hollywoodies of his type, as the prices sometimes can shoot straight up to £100,000 at auctions.
The first time I visited Spittalfieds Market, I fell in love with East London and was determined to live there, go out there, breathe its air, and become one with it. I quickly realized it just wasn't me. I only pretend to be cool and alternative, but actually need my clean streets, my clean and tidy supermarkets and my pretty-people watching, which I got accustomed to living in the vicinities of Notting Hill. However, walking around Commercial Street, Brick Lane and so on, I fell in love with the sounds, the buzz and the smells of the area. Walking down from Liverpool Street Station towards Brick Lane on one of my first adventures East, I stumbled upon the colorful windows of the Smudge Gallery and lured in as I peaked at the vast collection of Banksy prints available inside.
The Smudge Gallery, Commercial Street, Spittalfields Market
They offer a wide range of prints from the famous Kissing Cops in Brighton to the Little Girl and the Red Balloon. The latter I am absolutely obsessed with as I see myself as a little girl, cherishing and adoring my red balloon and walking around the street with it, as if it were my imaginary friend. Anyways, next time you're in proximity to Spittalfields or in Shoreditch, Liverpool Street etc., make a quick stop at the Smudge Gallery, and who knows? You may not end up leaving empty-handed.
As fun as gallery-hopping is, and as cool as art-buying is, you will need to fill your stomach up with some Brick Lane deliciousness on your way out. Get a table at the hip and cozy Story Deli Pizza, where you can eat one of the most superb pizzas on the east side of London.