Street Art In Leicester, Symbol Of A Vibrant City

Leicester street art
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Walk around the city of Leicester and you’ll see that this is a place that is rapidly discovering its tourism potential. It is also a vibrant, diverse and multicultural city. So perhaps it is not surprising to find an abundance of stunning graffiti and street art in Leicester, bringing new life to old buildings.

Graffwerk And Leicester

There has been an active street art scene in Leicester since the 1980s. However, much of what you see today is due to the efforts of Graffwerk, an arts project whose stated aim is in “redefining the visual landscape of cities through the use of street art”. Founded in 2017, Graffwerk brings together artists from around the world to create large and eye-catching murals.

Street art image of three men in different colours superimposed upon one another
One of many artworks in St George’s Cultural Quarter

Although they are scattered about the city, the greatest concentration of these artworks is in the St George Cultural Quarter, especially around the Southampton Street area. You can discover many of them on a street art trail, and information about the different pieces can be found in this map.

Bring The Paint

Graffwerk’s activity has mostly been focused around the Bring The Paint festivals that took place in 2017, 2019 and 2022. New images were created for these events, sometimes at breathtaking speed: I spoke to someone in a painted garage forecourt who told me he’d watched the main piece going up literally overnight.

The 2022 festival showcased 48 large scale murals as well as activities, events, workshops, music and food. A particular feature this year was the creation of a mural with augmented reality. I downloaded the app and was fascinated to see a moving landscape of cogs and wheels. (The mural was created by German artist Bond, and you can find it on York Street, not far from the multi-storey car park.)

Augmented reality image with colourful cogs and wheels
A bit of augmented reality brings an image to life!

St George’s Tower

The latest addition to Leicester’s street art is at St George’s Tower, a student accommodation block known locally as the Blue Tower. A joint venture between Graffwerk and the Business Improvement District, the painting was the work of local artists and was completed in July 2022.

Tall tower block with a mural on one side including various images including a fox at the top
The mural of St George’s Tower

This mural is 82m high, making it the third tallest piece of street art in the world. It features a number of local themes, including a fox and a tiger to represent the city’s sporting clubs.

Legal Street Painting Sites

Of course, street art and graffiti are not the sole preserve of professional artists. There are several legal spray paint sites in Leicester where anyone can add their own work (the main stipulation being that you only paint over someone else’s efforts if you can improve upon them…)

Many of these sites are outside the central area but some – including a series of boarded-up windows on St James Street – are within the St George Cultural Quarter.

Some Favourite Bits Of Street Art In Leicester

I’ve picked out a few of the pieces I enjoyed – you’ll note the incredible diversity of subject and style!

Mural of a magpie and a spool of thread surrounded by a blue circle on the side of a building

The picture of a magpie with a needle and thread is a reference to Leicester’s association with the garment trade. Painted on the side of a building in Queen Street, it is jointly the work of Mono and Ruelo.

Facade of a building painted with a regular design of green and white arches

Alex Rubes created this Art Deco style pattern on the side of a building in Yeomen Street.

Mural of a man with pencils tucked into his hat and a rat in his pocket

The Australian artist Smug painted this picture of a friend in Rutland Street. Apparently he created the image just by referring to a photo on his phone.

Mural of three women's heads surrounded by a white circle

This picture of a woman’s face with stylised patterns is a classic Art Nouveau style piece by Inkie. You can find it in the car park in Queen Street.

Mural on the side of a museum including Buddhist images and a tiger

And, finally, a particular favourite of mine. Painted on the side of the historic Newarke Houses to celebrate Leicester City’s Premier League title win in 2016, it features a variety of Buddhist themes.

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

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WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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