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More from Emma Bryning

Graffiti of Wellclose Prison Debtors’ Cell at the Museum of London

Wellclose Prison, also known as Neptune Street Prison, was located off Wellclose Square near to the Tower of London. The 18th-century small prison was run on a commercial basis and the majority of inmates were insolvent debtors who were either imprisoned until they could repay their debts or were awaiting transfer to Newgate Prison. The prison was below a public tavern which was connected to a courthouse, where the tavern’s landlord acted as gaoler. By the 1790s, the prison was empty and in a state of disrepair. The prison was finally closed in the 19th century and the building it was housed within was turned into a lodging house. When the building was demolished in 1911, two cells from the prison were dismantled and transferred to the London Museum at Kensington Palace and elements of both cells can now be found on display in the Museum of London. Prisoners in the cells were known to scratch and carve their names and initials or write messages or draw pictures onto the walls of the cells and many of these marks can still be seen today. 

Historic Graffiti of St Augustine’s Tower, Hackney, London

St Augustine’s Tower is the oldest building in Hackney and can be found in the gardens of St John’s Church. This Grade I listed tower is managed by the Hackney Historic Buildings Trust and is usually open on the last Sunday of each month. A church was built on the site in the 12th century and then rebuilt in the 16th century. The church became redundant following the completion of the Church of St-John-at-Hackney in 1792 and the tower is all that remains of the 16th-century church following the demolition of the rest of the building in 1798. Although the tower was also due to be demolished it was kept in order to house the church bells until they could be moved to their new location. It is also reported that the tower stayed after the contractor employed to demolish it found it to be too difficult of a job. After climbing the narrow staircase to the top of the tower, visitors are treated to a view of the City of London whilst a variety of graffiti can be found throughout, including marks left by those visiting the tower in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and drawings of houses. 

Dulwich Outdoor Gallery, Street Art, London

The Dulwich Outdoor Gallery is a unique London street art project which was started by the late Ingrid Beazley, art museum curator and art educator, in collaboration with the street artist Stik. In 2011, Beazley invited Stik to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, where she worked in the education department, and they decided to create a project that would try to break the barriers between urban art and street art. Stik subsequently created six murals at various locations in Dulwich re-imagining the art from the permanent collection of Baroque Old Masters in the gallery. Beazley and Stik later organised the Baroque Streets festival in 2013 where street artists from around the world were invited to choose a painting from the gallery collection and interpret it in their own style on one of the chosen walls near the gallery, recreating the Old Masters on the streets. Beazley and Stik hoped that the project would bring the collection of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest art museum in England, to a wider audience whilst also introducing those unfamiliar with urban art to the street art genre. 

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