brixton murals

following the brixton riots in 1981 lambeth council commissioned a number of murals in an attempt to improve the area for local residents. some of the murals are now in a poor state of repair but others have survived more-or-less intact, due to differences in location, the paint used and how the walls were prepared before painting. the volunteer-run london mural preservation society was established in 2010 with the aim to catalogue, publicise, protect and restore murals across the city.

click on images for larger versions.

brixton windmill mural. original – caroline thorp, mick harrison. restoration – positive arts.

this mural celebrates one of the last remaining windmills in london, which was restored to working order in 2011, and references historical links to the countryside and food production methods. part of the mural design has been restored as per the original while other elements – for example the local allotments in the centre right panel – were added in the 2012 restoration.

windmill mural before restoration

part of the reason for its deterioration was the original use of household paint. the restoration uses spray paint.

mauleverer road mural. jane gifford, mick harrison, caroline thorp, ruth blench.

imagery drawn from the new forest, brockwell park, and the previous life of the building as  stables for horses delivering beer in the area. the view of the carribean was requested by a local resident who wanted a reminder of home.


the muted tones of the weathered paint (applied directly to the brick without render) are rather pleasing.

big splash mural. christine thomas and local community.

an accomplished design, developed with widespread community consultation, which includes a rich variety of local people and references. the river depicted is the effra, one of london’s “lost” rivers which flow beneath the city. numerous pieces of pottery reference the royal doulton factory in lambeth and the women who worked there.

bellefields road. london wall mural group.

a fragmented design (rendered more so by my composite picture). non-political in intent and somewhat literal in representation.

bellefields road beach mural. london wall mural group.

designed to compliment the earlier mural on the same road. the lower part has been graffitied and painted over.

children at play. stephen pusey.

this mural depicting local children on the side of the brixton academy music venue was partially restored in 2011. it is generally well preserved, largely due to the use of keim silicate paint, developed in c19th germany to be particularly weather resistant. apparently the rather devilish expressions were not entirely intentional on the part of the artist.

brixton station food mural. karen smith, angie biltcliffe.

the station murals were painted on boards which were subsequently fixed to the walls, rather than being painted onto them directly. a celebration of foodstuffs that could be bought in the market.

brixton station clutter mural. karen smith, angie biltcliffe.

an eclectic mix of items for sale in the second hand market, including many local references.

nuclear dawn. brian barnes, dale mccrea.

perhaps the most iconic – certainly the most overtly political – of brixton’s murals. a sharp reminder of the political climate and concerns of the era. it is situated on the side of carlton mansions, a housing co-op since the late 1970s, currently under threat of eviction for redevelopment and loss of the mural. the british cabinet were originally depicted in a bunker, now covered in graffiti at the base of the mural. the original design is held in the print room at the v&a.

there is an online petition and facebook page dedicated to preserving the mural.

gks public art project

on  our travels it was good to see that the mural tradition is still alive in brixton – vitreous enamel murals on the gks elderly sheltered scheme in glanelg road (2005).


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