Since way before street art was a thing, Londoners have been expressing affection for their neighbourhoods through giant public murals. Here are five of our favourite pieces of wall-sized art that are big on local love.
1. Battersea in Perspective: Brian Barnes & Neil Torbett, 1988
At the base of the wall are portraits of politicians and public figures hailing from SW11, while the landscape above it is a depiction of the area as it looked in the late ’80s, so detailed that you can even make out a miniature rendering of the mural itself within the mural, ‘Inception’-style. 1 Dagnell St, SW11 5DW.
2. Brixton Speaks: Will Self, 2011
As part of a three-year arts push by Lambeth Council, writer and long-word fanatic Will Self spent a month eavesdropping on conversations in and around Brixton Market. After they made him take out references to drug-dealing and petty crime, the result was this – an illuminated mash-up of abstracted conversations with a distinct Brixtonian lilt. Electric Avenue, SW9 8JX.
3. People of Southwark: Ibiye Camp, May 2016
Did you know that Michael Caine, Florence Welch and, er, Giant Haystacks spent significant chunks of their formative years in Southwark? Thanks to this recently unveiled piece by artist Ibiye Camp, those who travel through Elephant & Castle regularly aren’t likely to forget. The Artworks Elephant, Elephant Rd, SE17 1AY.
4. Fitzrovia Mural: Mick Jones & Simon Barber, 1980
The West End doesn’t exactly scream ‘community’ these days, but it wasn’t always that way. This chaotic end-of-terrace piece, visible up Tottenham Court Road, pays tribute to the people who lived and worked in W1 back in the pre-Pret-and-chuggers days. Corner of Tottenham St and Tottenham Court Rd, W1T 2AE.
5. Hackney Peace Carnival Mural: Ray Walker, 1985
There are plenty of anti-nuclear murals in London, but this wall-enveloping effort on Dalston Lane, which was restored in 2014, trumps the rest thanks to its sheer positivity. There’s a tear-jerking story to it, too: Walker died of a heart attack before its completion, leaving his wife to finish his work. 13 Dalston Lane, E8 1FA.