Category Archives: Street art

Romeo & Juliet mural marks the site of original Shakespearean theatre (before the Globe)

Shoreditch street art commemorates where the tragic love story was first performed back in the 16th century.

New Inn Broadway © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Romeo and Juliet mural on New Inn Broadway in Shoreditch

When it comes to checking out street art in Shoreditch, you’ll be spoiled for choice. However, one of the district’s most striking murals has a special historic significance. One particular building on New Inn Broadway features a mural depicting Romeo and Juliet… on the very spot where the play was first performed.

Long before The Globe was built on Bankside, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) used to tread the boards in the East End. In 1572, the Mayor of London cracked down on plays being performed within the City of London in an attempt to prevent the spread of the Plague. As a result, theatre companies started performing just outside the jurisdictions of the City. The Theatre was built in 1576 on the site of the Holywell Priory, which has been demolished following the dissolution of the monasteries a few decades earlier. It was started by actor and theatre manager James Burbage (1530/5-1597) and his brother-in-law John Brayne (1541-1586). At the time, Shoreditch was notoriously rough and was surrounded by brothels, gambling dens and rowdy taverns. The Theatre was built in a polygonal shape, included three galleries and a yard and was said to have cost £700 to build.

The Theatre owner Burbage was a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men theatre company, with a certain actor and playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon as one of his colleagues. The LCM was formed in 1594, when Shakespeare had already been making waves in the theatre scene for at least two years. The troupe started performing Shakespeare’s plays exclusively. Shakespeare’s tragic love story Romeo and Juliet was performed for the first time at The Theatre, estimated to have been written around 1591-1595.

New Inn Broadway © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Juliet is seen leaning over her balcony looking for her Romeo

After 22 years of entertaining Londoners, The Theatre came to an end following a dispute between the late Burbage’s son Richard (1567-1619) and the site’s landowner Giles Allen. In a desperate bid to protect their playhouse, Richard and his brother Cuthbert enlisted the help of some associates to dismantle The Theatre in December 1598. The timbers were believed to have been hidden nearby in Bridewell, before being taken over London Bridge to Bankside when the weather improved. Timbers from The Theatre were used to build The Globe in 1599.

For centuries, the site of The Theatre was lost until it was rediscovered by Museum of London archaeologists in 2008. They found remains of brick and stone polygonal footings of the gallery, along with seeds and fruit pips and broken beer vessels from the Elizabethan period. Just north of the Romeo and Juliet mural we see today, a building is being erected to house offices and a permanent exhibition about The Theatre.

Today, a Romeo and Juliet mural adorns a modern three-storey office building on the site of The Theatre. The top of the piece features the heroine Juliet in a blue gown, looking down from her balcony for her Romeo, who gazes up adoringly at her from two storeys down. One of Juliet’s passages from Act 2, Scene 2 of the play is featured: ‘My bounty is as boundless as the sea’; ‘My love as deep the more I give to thee’; and ‘The more I have for both are infinite’. Fans of the play will recognise it from Romeo and Juliet’s post-Capulet ball discussion when they make plans to marry after meeting that evening. The mural was commissioned through the Global Street Art Agency in June 2018.

  • New Inn Broadway, Shoreditch, EC2A 3PZ. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street or Old Street.

For more London history and architecture posts, click here.

Find out about Middle Temple Hall, location of the first performance of Twelfth Night.

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Agatha Christie artwork celebrates 90th anniversary of the Seven Dials Mystery

Agatha Christie art Iona Rowland © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Iona Rowland’s art honouring Agatha Christie is on show until spring 2019

On show in Seven Dials for a limited time only is a celebration of one of the country’s most successful authors. Artist Iona Rowland has created an artwork marking the 90th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s novel The Seven Dials Mystery. The detective story was one of Christie’s early works and was published in January 1929. Among the characters included Lady Eileen (Bundle) Brent, who also appeared in the author’s 1925 tale The Secret Of Chimneys.

Rowland’s artwork features silk screen prints of a 1926 photograph of Christie. The piece, which was unveiled in January 2019, is on show until spring 2019 on Shorts Gardens – leading to the Seven Dials district of the West End. Once the art comes down, it will be auctioned for charity.

  • The Evolution of Agatha Christie is on show until spring 2019. At the junction of Shorts Gardens and Neal Street. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.

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Explore the street art of Croydon at the RISEfestival 2018

Exploring Dulwich’s street art with the Dulwich Festival

Meeting Of Styles Festival: London’s largest street art festival returns this Bank Holiday weekend

Meeting Of Styles UKThis bank holiday weekend, the capital’s largest graffiti and street art festival is returning to London. Taking over the Nomadic Community Gardens in Shoreditch, the Meeting Of Styles festival will feature three days of live street art painting, music, food and drinking.

A garden oasis and the walls leading to it from Brick Lane will be transformed with over 50 artists collaborating. Budding street artists – young and old – will also have the chance to learn some skills at workshops. Meanwhile, there’ll be plenty of music from the likes of Ghosttown & the lyrical genius Dabbla, DJs Maj Duckworth, Sugai & Super Scratch Sunday, Blabbamouf and Trackside Burners.

Providing the refreshments will be a Rockwell House pop-up bar. The in-garden Roving Café will be serving hot food, cakes and fresh coffee, while the Dry Rub Club will be grilling and marinading on the BBQ.

Also on site will be a mini market of stalls selling art and clothing, including Meeting Of Styles merchandise and EndOfTheLine apparel. By Monday, the Nomadic Community Gardens will be hosting their monthly party with the surrounding walls now complete.

  • Meeting Of Styles takes place from 27-29 May 2016 at the Nomadic Community Gardens, Brick Lane, 1 Fleet Street Hill, Shoreditch, E2 6EE. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit the Meeting Of Styles website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in May, click here.

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Stik hits the South Bank: Street artist brings colour to Hungerford Bridge

Stik South bank © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Stik mural under Hungerford Bridge at the South Bank

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Each stick person was individual with their expression and clothing

While I love the South Bank, few would disagree with me that the brutalist architecture and concrete isn’t the most visually appealing. Those passing under Hungerford Bridge as they walk from Jubilee Gardens to the Southbank Centre would be hard pressed to ignore the mud coloured walls surrounding them. Earlier this month (2-4 August 2013), the Southbank Centre hosted a three-day Urban: Celebrating Street Culture festival, which included DJs, breakdancers, street artists, skaters, free runners and poets doing their thing.

I attended on the first day and was fortunate enough to see street artist Stik in action creating a mural along a particularly drab piece of wall under the bridge. At the point I saw him, he had created a string of his white stick people against a yellow backdrop. When I returned a few days later, they had acquired outfits and different expressions.

Speaking about the South Bank, Stik was quoted as saying: ‘The South Bank has already made a commitment to having a great deal of artistic freedom for street artists and graffiti artists to come and express themselves on their premises. It’s become part of the institution of street art.’ I applaud the Southbank Centre for allowing Stik to create street art on the site and I hope it remains all the walls for the foreseeable future.

Stik South bank © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Stik starts off by creating plain stick people…

Stik South bank © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Stik in action creating the mural during the Urban: Celebrating Street Culture festival


For another Metro Girl post on art on Hungerford Bridge, read A different kind of street art: Painter on Hungerford Bridge.

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