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More from Emma Bryning

‘G. DAVIS IS INNOCENT’ Graffiti, East London

Under a railway bridge on Salmon Lane in the Limehouse area of East London is an inconspicuous piece of graffiti left in large white letters, ‘G. DAVIES IS INNOCENT’. The graffiti is one of the few remaining pieces painted in the 1970s as part of a grassroots public campaign to have George Davis freed from prison. In 1974, Davis was sentenced to twenty years in prison for the robbery of the London Electricity Board in Ilford. After family and friends raised questions about the evidence used to convict Davis, the phrase ‘George Davis Is Innocent OK’ began appearing all over East London and the rest of the country. The campaign paid off and in May 1976 Davis was released under the royal prerogative on the advice of the then home secretary, Roy Jenkins. However, only 18-months later, Davis was caught robbing the bank of Cyprus in Holloway and pleaded guilty to his involvement in this armed bank raid. 

Prison Graffiti in the Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London

The Tower of London is home to some of the most well-known historic graffiti in the city, and many of the marks are located in the Beauchamp Tower. The Beauchamp Tower was built between 1275-1281 during the reign of King Edward I and was later used as a state prison, housing high-ranking prisoners including Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Guildford Dudley. This former prison contains over three-hundred graffiti inscriptions which were created over four centuries by the imprisoned inhabitants to help alleviate their boredom during their confinement and so that they could make sure that they would be remembered. 

The Trellick Tower and Graffiti Hall of Fame, Kensal Green, London

Trellick Tower is a Grade II* listed tower block on Cheltenham Estate in Kensal Green which was designed in a Brutalist style by architect Ernö Goldfinger and opened in 1972. The base of the tower is renowned as a centre for urban arts and is another example of one of London’s legal ‘Graffiti Halls of Fame’, where graffiti artists can paint without the risk of arrest and, consequently, have a safe space to hone their skills. In the Autumn of 2020, it was revealed that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council were taking steps to implement a new development onto the grounds of the Trellick Tower which would leave the graffiti hall of fame at risk of destruction. In response to the plans, Anna Gudbrands created a documentary film, ‘Trellick: The Writing is on The Wall’ highlighting the importance of both the tower and the Graffiti Hall of Fame. 

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Frestonia

In the late 1970s a group of squatters in Notting Hill declared their independence from the United Kingdom and called upon UN peacekeepers to protect them from eviction. Hear their story here.