The street art scene across the country is booming, but once only the preserve of rebels and renegades, it’s now being seen as having some social good. A way to brighten up dull spaces, a chance to engage local people in their area, the potential to stimulate a feeling of pride and ownership, and offer up opportunities and creative prospects for some of those most in need, community murals and art projects are clearly of value. Here are five places to spot community murals across the capital.
We Are Hackney Mural, Hackney
Created by 6th formers from Clapton Girls’ Technology School in conjunction with volunteers from contemporary urban art based artists’ group Soulful Creative, this lively mural in Hackney is by national charity Envision. They run programmes for young people on issues relating to citizenship education, sustainable development and the local community. The group of girls – who called themselves Tick4Change – had to bid Dragon’s Den style for the funding to create their masterpiece, showing creativity and entrepreneurialism.
The Forest Recycling Project is one of the country’s Community RePaint schemes, who collect reusable, leftover paint and re-distribute it to individuals and groups across the country to help them brighten up their areas. More than 31,000 people in social need, 2,500 voluntary organisations, community groups and charities have benefited from their resources (which include a whopping 337,000 litres of paint). One beneficiary was The Rhodes Estate in Hackney where residents, The Paint Place, local artists and Emma Scutt and Alice Cunningham transformed a wall into something a little more vibrant, boosting the mood and as well as the view.
It’s not just a dance but a real place steeped in history, and in recent years has benefitted from a renewed focus and revival. Murals and street art are often associated with younger people, but South London’s Creative Sparkworks also support the over 55s on their Valuing Older People courses. During 2014 and 2015 they were involved in the Lambeth Walks Restoration Project, and, commissioned by the Ethelred Tenants Association, worked with residents to recreate the original 1981 paintings about the past of Lambeth Walk Square. It’s a nice way of linking the past with the everyday experience of today and creating conversations between generations.
Back in 2012 the Community Space Challenge, run by Positive Arts, revamped the Osprey Estate in Surrey Quays. Young people from the estate designed and painted the wall, which features the birds that the blocks are named after, included the tawny, raven and of course osprey, as well as a historic London Docklands scene. It’s great way to unite the past, present, urban and rural, educate those who may not have much contact with wildlife, as well as looking rather pretty.
On the side of the International Alert Building you can find images depicting what the HUG Portugese Group, Landsdowne Youth Club and Springfield Community believe to be unique about Stockwell. Formed as part of a wider cohesion project, it’s helped local people feel proud about their area, and is one of many that Arts 4 Space have run across London.