The Cable Street Mural is head and shoulders above the rest. For sheer visual complexity, design and clarity it comes tops. Not least the adaptation of constructivist/suprematist dynamics into its composition. It is not just a representation of characters but also records and affirms a landmark event in East London life and our political landscape. Locals still show great affection for the mural and do not perceive it as an imposition from the outside or from professionals.
Top ten London murals
London‘s murals are an endangered species – a depressing number have been knocked down, vandalised, obscured or have faded since their heyday in the 1980s. But an impressive collection remains, if you know where to look. Time Out visits ten of the best
1. Fitzrovia muralWhitfield Gardens, off
Tottenham Court Road, W1This memorial to the characters of Fitzrovia, painted in 1980 by Mick ‘Not the Clash one’ Jones (who did the top half) and Simon Barber (who did the bottom), is one of London’s best known murals. Jones’s half is an attack on large-scale developments, while Barber focuses on Fitzrovia as a place, but who the deuce are all these ‘characters’? We can identify almost one – Arthur Fowler, masquerading as a butcher, to the bottom left. But he’s not real, nor a Fitzrovian, and he post-dates the mural by five years. Nuts. (Also, see if you can spot the hammer and sickle in the top left. Reds!)Rating 4/10. Needs a touch-up.
2. The Spirit of SohoCorner of Carnaby Street and Broadwick Street, W1 This 1991 mural from the Free Form Arts Trust centres on St Anne, dedicatee of the local church. Her gaudy frock contains a veritable A-Z of Soho, with fruit and veg in the warp and local landmarks in the weft. A shifty looking crowd of (mostly male) local notables stand at her feet, hoping to gain a crafty upskirt vantage. And is that a spliff-smoking hare rogering a dog? It’s just not natural.Rating 7/10. A bewildering muddle with plenty of effort, but tries a bit too hard.
3. Cable Street muralCable Street, E1, north of St George-in-the-East burial ground A winning combination of fascists, flags and fisticuffs. When Oswald Mosely decided to march his fascist blackshirts through the East End, the locals took umbrage – and various bits of plywood – and repulsed the bounders. The Battle of Cable Street of 1936 is brilliantly remembered in this staggering mural from 1993. Rating 9/10. Huge, historical, and Hitler in suspenders. Superb.
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I googled to find the author of the fabulous mural in market square Dartford. If you go looking, try the nearby pie and mash shop it's the most authentic you will find. Yours nostalgically, ex-londoner living in Cannes.
I argee with Steve, Ray Walker's peace memorial in Dalston Lane is a cut above the rest for its brushstroke quality and definition which is echoed in the one mural you've commented on, and that he also was brought in to work on, the Cable Street mural north of St George-in-the-East burial ground
I'm glad to see Alex Martinez's Westbourne Park mural made it on your list. We just visited his NY2NY graffiti exhibition at 6 Neal's Yard Gallery and it's really something I'd recommend, on till the 3rd of June 2007. My other favourite is the Kilburn wall, wow!
What about Ray Walker's peace memorial in Dalston Lane, its better than all of these. http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevemonty/71439275/
A mural which I think should included in this list is the one in Dalston. It shows a street carnival with people of mixed backgrounds. And everyone seems to be having a good time. It makes me feel happy and hopeful.
I enjoyed your feature on London murals - I have noticed that as well as murals there are a lot of faded old adverts on the sides of buildings from 50 or more years ago. It would be great if some of these could be restored before they fade for ever! Perhaps Time Out could do a feature / campaign on this issue. Regards Victoria Walsh