You are currently viewing Live painting – Nelson Square, Southwark, South London 5-6 September 2022

Live painting – Nelson Square, Southwark, South London 5-6 September 2022

Following up on the workshops that took place in July and August 2021 organised by Beatbuzz in Crystal Palace, South London, some of the attendees showed a keen interest in the process of organising the production of a mural. After a series of questions and also after reading the surveys submitted by the attendees, we decided to work alongside a couple of them on the planning of a mural’s production. After a series of cancellations due to last minute permissions denied as well as Covid related delays, we planned the take over of a wall of a South London housing estate, above the local pub.

The mural aimed to refresh and enhance an existing fading mural that had lost its function to bring brightness and colour to a housing estate surrounded by gentrification and that has now seen the effects of the post-Covid with the newly built offices and glassed building laying empty due to the “new normal” of an hybrid between work from home and video calls and the rare office visit. 

The choice of the location, artists and artwork aims to highlight how street art requires maintenance and as per the discipline itself, the artworks are in constant evolution with many being replaced regularly and a small part protected and maintained. With this work we wanted to highlight this necessity and also the impact that these large murals can have on the local area, improving mental health, bringing familiarity and peculiarity to buildings built to look exactly the same as the next one. 

The production of this artwork went through the whole process that had been highlighted in the previous workshops, from the idea to the execution, picking locations, finding the artists, establishing relationships and eventually the production of the mural.

Artists Kero and Ocu produced a work that aimed to bring colour to an area made of bricks and glass using flowers, animals and a number of eyes representing the abundance of CCTVs in London but also the many eyes looking after each other in the neighbourhood.

THe area has seen a boost in the last 20 years but, aside from the many marketing, PR and IT firms present in the renovated offices, the area has remained with a predominantly working class background and gentrification has surrounded the few remaining council estates. 

With Covid and the change of the working habits of Londoners, this area that has somehow managed to survive gentrification with its rising prices and cost of living, is now facing an incredible reduction of footfall that is leaving shopkeepers and the many restaurant and bars that arose hand in hand with the gentrification process. Have a floreal theme with bright colour and a 3D effect aims to bring the wall to life and subsequently bring life to an otherwise plain council building. 

The artists Kero and Ocu worked in pair and worked with us in the idea and development of the work. The aim is to keep it alive for as long as possible and to evolve it even more over the years. 

During the 2 half days of painting, many passersby and local residents stopped by to take pictures, to exchange a few words with us and the artist and some were also willing to answer a few questions on how they saw the mural within the area and the estate itself and a few also filled in our survey.

Local resident of 35 years Christine B. commented on how the mural has completely changed the face of the building bringing her “colour and happiness” when she looks at it. Another local resident of 25 years, Larry, who lives right above the mural shared his positive feedback by saying that he is now much more proud of the place where he lives as the mura has “brought a fresh look to an otherwise boring looking building”. The landlord of the local public house has also commented positively on the impact the mural has and will have on the building from an aesthetic perspective and how it “also makes the area feel safer at night”.