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Street art in Turnpike Lane
Flickr / Maureen Barlin

London's street art neighbourhoods: Turnpike Lane

Chris Heasman

Over the past quarter of a century, street art has become part of London's image. Some areas, however – think Shoreditch, think Camden, think Leake Street – are far more recognisable as centres of street art than others; partially because they have so much of it. That doesn't mean that those places are the be-all and end-all of it, though. Almost everywhere in London has at least a few walls worth seeing, and, of all the lesser-known corners of our painted city, Turnpike Lane is perhaps one of the most exciting and vibrant – nicely exemplified by, if nothing else, the very fact that each of the following works are located within a 60-second walk of each other.


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1. 'The Heron'

 ATM's heron, which is painted on the side of some lucky person's house, is situated just off Langham Place, about a minute from the station. It's the Turnpike Art Group's largest piece at over 18 feet, and looks really rather magnificent when all lit up by that streetlight at night.


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2. 'Fox'

Boe & Irony are a pair of anonymous street artists who have works on walls across the city – all of them animal-themed. Their fox, on Waldegrave Road, has been there for a few years now and is probably one of the area's most recognisable landmarks. 


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3. 'The Lapwing' (and Fio Silva's mural)

 That there lapwing is another of ATM's pieces, whilst the roaring, feathered mural over the top of it was a more recent effort by Argentinian illustrator Fio Silva, who created it in post-collaboration with ATM. 


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4. 'The Toasters'

 'The Toasters' were created by the Turnpike Art Group back in 2014 in only two days. It was placed there as part of an effort by the TAG to make that road – which branches off from the station's easternmost exit – a true menagerie of colour. Go walk through there and you'll probably agree it worked. Those groovy little horses at the bottom there are by renowned Spanish artist Francisco de Pájaro, also known as Art is Trash. 


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5. 'Envision Peace'

 Another of the area's most famous works, by one of the world's most famous urban artists – 'Envision Peace' was installed by Shepard Fairey over an old Victorian billboard in 2012. The mushroom was placed on the roof by Christiaan Nagel, who has countless others like it installed in cities all over the world. 


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6. The Langham Place fox

 This fox, perhaps most famous for startling pretty much everyone who passes through Langham Place by night, is by Stewy, an East London-based stencilist whose animals around London – ranging from ducks to bears to chickens – are part of a running theme on the reclamation of urban areas by nature. 


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7. 'Darling, Look, It's A Commission'

This work by Mobstr (recognisable for his iconic, satirical, text-based pieces) on the side of the Poundland on Whymark Avenue once read 'Darling, Look, It's A Banksy' as a comment on the removal of Banksy's famous 'Slave Labour' piece which was removed and auctioned off in 2013 – for $1.3 million, although that still doesn't make it okay that they took it. 'Commission' was added fairly recently in a nice piece of meta-art by Mobstr, and local graffitists seem to have jumped on board to make their own comments. 


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8. 'I Would Be Your Slave'

 As you can probably tell from that last image, 'I Would Be Your Slave' was installed on the same wall as Mobstr's piece (and the Banksy rat below). Pop artist Pegasus, who is part of the Turnpike Art Group, fashioned the piece in the wake of Bowie's death in January 2016 – over the top of where Banksy's 'Slave Labour' piece once was, in order to draw parallels between the two.


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9. Banksy's rat

Rats are a recurring motif of Banksy's art, and this one – located on the same wall as the previous two works – is ostensibly a condemnation of the removal of 'Slave Labour'. Luckily, this one has been protected to stop the same from happening again. 


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10. Badgers

We're not actually sure whose piece this badger is (located very slyly on the back of a bench by the old Palace Gates station) but, considering it is surrounded by other stencils placed there by the Turnpike Art Group, you can probably assume it was them. Either way, not only is the badger not the only one in the area (there's another sneaky one up by the station), but it's also the perfect example of what makes the art in the Turnpike Lane so great. You could live here for years and never notice it – just as you could well never notice so many other of the pieces of street art that exist there. It's a place where every walk around the area will show you something you've never seen before.

Check out more of London's best street art

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