Soho is one of the busiest and most vibrant areas of London, and is home to some of the best street art in the West End. From small murals to large-scale pieces, Soho’s street art scene is constantly evolving and always worth a visit. So if you’re looking for something new to see in London, be sure to check out the street art in Soho!
Soho, London isn’t a neighbourhood generally known for its street art. The walls of buildings in Soho aren’t covered in an ever-changing array of graffiti, murals, and other street art. But if you take a step back off the main streets you will be surprised at the variety and quality of street art in the area. While some of the artwork changes often, there are some pieces which have become iconic fixtures of the Soho landscape.
The area I wanted to focus on today is Carnaby Street. It’s a popular area consisting of 14 streets in the heart of London’s West End with over 100 shops and 60 restaurants, bars and cafés.
Coral Reef Mural
A coral reef-inspired mural on Little Marlborough Street is a colourful reminder of Christmas 2019. In 2019 Carnaby Street collaborated with ocean conservation charity partner, Project Zero. and even put a huge whale swimming down Carnaby Street. Significantly smaller but even more colourful is this coral reef mural. London artist: Choots. Little Marlborough Street is also a film location for the Cruella film.
John Lennon Bench
Just around the corner for the coral reef mural sits Beatle member John Lennon.
His life-size sculpture of John Lennon sitting on a wooden bench is titled ‘Imagine’, after one of the famous singer/songwriter’s signature songs. The sculpture bench was installed on 9 October 2021 on what would have been his 81st birthday.
It was created in 2009 by acclaimed American/British sculptor, poet, playwright, lyricist, novelist and actor, Lawrence Holofcener, who passed away in 2017 aged 91.
Spirit of Soho Mural
This mural is a reminder of Soho’s collective past. This mural was created by the Soho community in 1991 and was coordinated by two organisations – Free Form Arts Trust, who designed and executed the work, and Alternative Arts, who coordinated the workshops. A public programme ran alongside it; a shining example of a community art project.
What makes the Spirit of Soho so special and unique is its sense of timelessness-the scenes it depicts are just as relevant now, if not more so than they were through most 20th century years.
Shaida Walking. 2015 by Julian Opie
This eye catching public work by visual artist Julian Opie premiered at Lumiere London 2016. His iconic style is recognised all over the world, as he creates a piece that will no doubt be seen by everyone walking down one street in particular: Broadwick Street.
“I wanted to draw people just the way they look walking down my street, any street. I asked random people to spare me 20 minutes and be filmed walking on a treadmill. I filmed at 50 frames a second (twice the normal film speed) and set about drawing each frame in a pared down drawing style derived from signs and symbols, ancient and modern. I built a display cabinet using LED technology usually seen on billboards and information panels. I found a public spot and placed the object on a plinth like a bronze statue of a civic hero to stride endlessly as a living drawing and as part of the crowd.” Julian Opie
Other artistic pieces to look out for are:
Art Deco entrance to Kingly Court from Carnaby Street https://w3w.co/burns.bliss.dark
Don’t miss the golden leaves on the entrance to Kingly Court from Beak Street https://w3w.co/comic.estate.sugars
Keep an eye out for the Palladium Theatre’s Wall of frame on Great Marlborough Street https://w3w.co/once.trend.brains
If you’re in the area you might want to venture to Golden Square which often shows rotating pieces of public art https://w3w.co/rabble.shrimp.young