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More from Emma Bryning

The Squatters’ Graffiti at Sutton House, London

Sutton House is the oldest domestic building in Hackney and one of London’s last remaining Tudor houses, having been built in 1535 by Tudor Statesman and Secretary of State to King Henry VIII, Ralph Sadlier. Even though the house is called ‘Sutton House’, it was never the dwelling of Thomas Sutton who actually lived in the house next door. The house was originally called ‘Bryk Place’ and was rested among long open green spaces and near to the town centre of Hackney. The history of the house is complex as, over time, it has been a Tudor manor house, a Victorian school, a Men’s Institute during the First World War, a Trade Unions Office in the 1960s-70s and a punk squat in the 1980s. The house was restored in the early 1990s by the National Trust and opened to the public in 1994. In order to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the squatter’s arrival to Sutton House, the National Trust converted the Squatter’s Room to recreate how it would have looked in 1985 with the help of some of the squatters who had lived there. In the room, visitors can see some of the original graffiti art left by the squatters which includes anti-fascist, anti-Thatcher and feminist political slogans. 

Stockwell Park Graffiti Hall of Fame and Stockwell War Memorial Mural

The Stockwell Park Graffiti Pen, known as ‘The Pen’ and the ‘Stockwell Hall of Fame’, is another legal graffiti site in London. It was originally built in the 1950s to be used by children from the estate to play sports but attracted graffiti and later became known as a legal graffiti site. It has been used as a graffiti pen for over forty years and can be found in the sunken basketball courts of Stockwell Park Estate on Aytoun Road. Over the years it became a space for graffiti writers and artists to create pieces, eventually becoming a destination site for some of the best graffiti and street art in the capital. The site was transformed in 2019 as part of a £200 million refurbishment of the Stockwell Park Estate by Network Homes and it was designed in consultation with local residents, graffiti artists and architects to provide a space to showcase the ever-changing graffiti artwork and to create interior wall spaces which would allow artists to continue working. 

Stockwell War Memorial Mural can be found near to the First World War memorial and just outside the entrance to Stockwell tube station. The work was created as part of a community art project led by muralist Brian Barnes and artist Myra Harris, and was painted between 1999 and 2001. Many of the images depicted in the mural link to the history of Stockwell and stories from the local area.

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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Rimbaud and Verlaine, “One Hell of a Household!”

Rimbaud and Verlaine, two of the most influential poets in French literature, had a sadistic and dysfunctional relationship – drinking, smoking opium, staying up for days at a time, and writing some of their greatest works. [CW: domestic violence; child abuse; suicide threat; drug abuse]