diamond geezer

 Friday, September 21, 2018

Yesterday Art On The Underground installed a photo-collage above the entrance to Brixton station. It's by Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and depicts a post-Windrush generation seated in front of wallpaper incorporating images of past lives. The artwork's conveniently unobstructed in the photograph circulated with the press release. It's a lot harder to capture in the tumult of passengers thronging up and down the stairs.

Backing up this commission is the simultaneous publication of a Brixton Mural Map, celebrating a long tradition of wall-painting by local Lambeth communities. Seven Brixton murals are featured, in comprehensive and colourful detail, along with a map to help you track them all down. It's all been splendidly produced. Copies are supposed to be available in the racks at Brixton station, but they weren't there on launch day, so it's just as well I'd downloaded a digital copy in advance.

The map's just the right side of schematic, so I didn't quite get lost tracking the murals down. The joyful faces of Children At Play have adorned the back of the O2 Academy since it was the Astoria. Nuclear Dawn first faced Coldharbour Lane in 1981, its mushroomed skeleton now part-obscured behind a tree in a parking lot. The other Brixton station has boasted market-showcase murals since 1986. All the background to their origination is explained in the 16 page booklet, along with pictures of some of Brixton's lost murals, long since painted over or demolished.

My favourite was up Acre Lane, or rather just off it, on the side wall of a wonderfully ordinary terraced house. Big Splash presents a sylvan view of Brixton on the banks of the Effra, with waterfowl and swimmers in the foreground, and a multiracial collection of characters staring down from windows above. One of the windows is real, and sensibly net-curtained. If you do choose to track this lot down, I'll warn you it's neither an easy nor a brief ramble, but you do pick up an alluringly earthy flavour of Brixton's lively culture on the way round. Bravo.

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