This post was written by Madelyn Urabe, a Syracuse Broadcast and Digital Journalism major, as part of our London Passport Programme. Maddie earned an “Art, Architecture & Heritage” passport stamp to recognise her work in this vlog episode of her Brtish adventures. All study abroad students are granted passports at the beginning of the semester to record their development as global citizens. Maddie’s other blogs have earned her Global Professional; Social & Political Justice; and Sport, Wellbeing & the Environment stamps as well.
Cold and rainy, typical London weather! And for my flat-mates and I, a great day for a free walking tour of Spitalfields and Brixton.
During our second weekend in London, we participated in some of Syracuse University’s ‘Love London’ walking tours. On Saturday, we left our flat near Farringdon and headed to Liverpool Street station to meet up with other students for the tour. We arrived a bit early and celebrated by checking out the different stores in the station since it was still raining outside.
When it was time, we were introduced to our tour guide who was going to be showing us around the Spitalfields area through the different street art works. Such street artists include Smok-1, Stik, and Banksy. Halfway through the tour we stopped by the Nomadio Community Gardens. In the gardens there were a plethora of sculptures, more murals, and old couches laid next to shacks and vans where people gathered to smoke, talk, and listen to music. Most of the shacks and vans were decorated with paintings and drawings. During the tour, our guide explained how some pieces of street art are being ‘tagged’ with people spray painting over them and covering some of the artists’ work.
Despite the rain, we really did enjoy ourselves and I liked trying something new. For me, seeing street art in a city is nothing new; but, it was wonderful to learn about a city through the street art. Some of the murals depicted political discourse, peace and prosperity, different ethnic cultures that migrated to Spitalfields, and more. There also was a wonderful bagel shop with cheap, delicious bagels and yes, we have gone back there for more.
The next day was sunny, and we were ready to visit Brixton. This tour was different from the Spitalfields one not only because it was not focused on art work, but because it focused a lot on gentrification and the activist movements that took place in that area. I did not film as much at Brixton because the locations we stopped at were corners on the street or someone’s home where a march was planned. For my style of vlogs and filming, it would be hard for a viewer to understand the importance of some of the locations and understand the buildings we saw were more than just Brixton buildings.
Learning about activist movements in London was interesting as it is something that I assumed happened in a cultural city like London, but I never knew much about the details of it. On the tour we learned about the ‘British Black Panther’ movement and LGTBQ communities and advocacy.
After walking through cities I’ve never heard of before, I highly suggest taking a walk through some streets and to take in what is around you. Notice the artwork on the walls, the blue circular plaques that mark historic locations in London and go out somewhere new with friends or with a group or on your own – for me, that’s the only way to truly experience and breath in a new city.