Above: The unusual mural at the junction of Giffin Street and Deptford High Street.
We are never far from remarkable forms of art in London – statues on buildings, free-standing statues of famous people, large murals on the end of a terrace and many other examples that could be mentioned. Some of it is very grand – like a famous statue or the decoration on an important building – but some of it is quite intimate and often very original.
Thanks to the bombing during the Second World War and also to what public bodies call ‘improvements’ to town centres, there are many end walls distributed all over London. Some of them are rather ugly and they often make the locality look rather stark. Even someone who does not know the area will easily notice that an end wall is the result of some kind of action that has changed the layout of the place they are looking at.
A good example is an ‘end wall’ near Deptford High Street. For many years it remained rather an eyesore and made the open space look rather untidy. In 2002 the Deptford X Festival was held and Patricio Forrester, from the South London public art company Artmongers, created the striking work in pink overlooking Deptford Market, which is at its largest on Saturdays when it occupies Deptford High Street, Douglas Way and part of Giffin Street.
It was Patricio’s first mural, created using water based masonry paint. Unlike many of London’s murals which have a strong narrative element, Patricio took an interventionist approach taking the physical circumstances of the site as the starting point and aiming not so much at creating a statement as an atmosphere of surrealism. His initial idea involved hanging physical objects by chains around the chimneys at the top of the wall but, when this proved impractical, he decided to paint the necklaces and tie – an ironic take on an area traditionally viewed as deprived.
Whereas Deptford was once a traditionally working class area, as the small factories and workshops have all closed down, the locality is gradually being gentrified. This is mainly because it is so well connected with the City of London and the West End – by railway trains running into London Bridge Station and Charing Cross Station. It is also well connected to Canary Wharf – using the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and the nearby stations.
After 15 years of Deptford weather, the His and Hers mural on Deptford High Street has enjoyed a makeover. This was due to the London residential developer, Anthology, who sponsored the recent restoration which took place between the 5th and the 9th of September 2016.