Hi everyone (both of you).
Look, let’s be honest; I waffle. Skip the preamble and scroll to the last sentence if that grinds your gears like it does me!! I won’t be offended.
Just thought I’d drop a little post in here due to many inactivity of late. since I last posted much has happened: I lost my job (but feel ok about that), had a bit of that crazy flu that knocked me on to my back for about three weeks right across Christmas and the New Year and even halfway through February is still kicking around in the form of a tickly cough and generally haven’t done much aside from catch up with a few friends, watched Spurs win a few football matches and so on. It’s been quite a relaxing start of the year, even if partially enforced.
But this post isn’t about that, as you may have guessed from the title. It’s a short one about art in the Croydon area. If you don’t know, Croydon is a borough of South London on the outer edge towards the North Downs. Over recent years it’s become synonymous with the worst of the city, especially after the riots a few years back where much of the centre of town was trashed and burned. That said, a quick look at the Wikipedia entry for the town will tell you there’s a lot more to it these days as well as historically.
Recently there’s been a bit of an upsurge in artwork in and around the town and I think I’m right in saying that the Fairfield Halls – a long-standing cultural centre and 60’s architectural eyesore – is going to re-open after a £30 million refurb soon.
Something that was recently introduced to me was the Rise Gallery in St George’s Walk. I’d been totally oblivious to it, but a friend who lives more locally said it was worth checking out. Then on a random trip through Surrey Street Market (FYI – one of the oldest markets in the country which has traded since 1276!) after a haircut I discovered some of the public realm art that the gallery was involved with, under a staircase leading up from the market to the back door of the cinema. I had a bit of a chat with a chap who I believe was the owner of the gallery and he alerted me to a Warhol exhibition that was going to take place. Sadly due to work commitments, I missed the exhibition by a day and so didn’t get to see the main event, so to speak: A walking tour of the town where artworks from contemporary artists, inspired by Warhol, were displayed on buildings around town. You can still see this on the Twitter account @warholcroydon, and there’s still some supporting information and audio descriptions on the website for the exhibition.
Gutted as I was, when I turned up a day late, the gallery was still exhibiting some of the Warhol originals, so that was worth the visit and walking the route of the tour introduced me to some parts of town I’d never been to before.
Also, it reminded me of some of the pictures I’ve taken over the last quarter or so of artwork that is around town. Croydon really is growing from a creativity point of view and it was both exciting to see and nostalgic to walk around, especially the St George’s walk area, where one of the contemporary Warhol inspired pieces was mounted above the front door of the first nightclub I ever worked in as a barman and junior manager, back in the day when Croydon was the centre of the, then new, UK Garage scene. It’s long closed and I hear that it’s still the same inside, aside from the sound system and lighting rig that was probably recycled in another venue somewhere. I’d love to get in and have a walk around for old times sake!!
Anyhoo. I thought I’d just share some of those pictures that I took so you can see what the Cultural Quarter of Croydon has to offer!!
I’ve captioned the images to give a bit of a tour feel if viewed in order, or just click as you like really!!
I’ve had my hair cut at the same barbers near Surrey Street for over 30 years now, even when I move away I travel back for a trim. Trust is important when a man has a blade at your head! Also there’s a real sense of place for me here. Links the now with my childhood.
So this is Surrey Street Market. The oldest continuously trading market in the UK. Mainly fruit and veg, there are traditional butchers, fishmongers and pubs all along the length of it. I like it: Proper EastEnders (except in the south)! (as viewed from the bridge in the next slide or so)
Just around the corner from the bridge and just off Surrey Street, is this Schoony piece – Boy Soldier. There’s a link in the blog about Schoony if you’d like to know more.
A slightly closer look.
The bridge that the market snaps were taken on crosses the market and leads towards St Georges Walk, a fairly dilapidated shopping precinct, now being put to better use. But the Rise Gallery make good use of all space around town, it seems, and even made use of this gap under the bridge to put on a small exhibition.
Always look in every direction in The Cronx. Art is everywhere. Even under the bridges! For example, this neon installation by Lauren Baker.
Make a dead space live. Paint it up a bit, why don’t you?!
Irrational close up of a brightly coloured A/C unit.
Every wall covered in such a small space and lots to see and do too…
…these folk are participating in a ‘try your hand at graffiti’ session. Just walk up and spray! Noice.
Some closer looks at this piece under the bridge and the back door of something or other.
I love seeing every inch made better looking than just dirty old bricks.
Last one from that wall.
Even the stairs leading up to the bridge have been used as a space for creativity…
Again, I’ve linked this at the bottom of the blog.
A little bit about the Rise Gallery and its aims and so forth.
So, leaving the bridge area here and heading towards St Georges Walk.
But before I got there my eye was caught by this piece, casually hanging out on the side of the Five Guys burger joint.
It’s by David Hollier (linked, as per) and is part of what I think is a series of ‘Imago Verbosa’ pieces. Worth a visit to his site to read more!
Just on the other side of the road was this little number: Only about a foot or two big. You’ve gotta keep your eyes peeled!
A closer view, so you can see some of the work that went in to it. The link in the blog takes you to the Dotmasters site where theres actually a video f this one being created.
Now in St George’s Walk. I happened to be passing the Rise Gallery on the opening (or preview?) night of the Warhol exhibit. Snuck a couple of shots of what was going on as I passed by…
I did manage to revisit the gallery the day after the exhibition was officially finished and have a look at some originals, but sadly I don’t have that footage to share. Hopefully I’ll find it again.
Quick snaps, make bad pics sometimes. Sorry.
Anyway, onwards. And through St George’s Walk. I’m not gonna caption all of these, but in general every shop in the precinct has a shutter which has been used for art of some form or another. It’s quite a site after everywhere has closed for the day and I think I’m right in saying this all changes on a reasonably regular basis.
There now follow several shop shutter snaps…
At the halfway point of the precinct it’s broken by a road. The art spills out on to unoccupied office space too!
Again, another closer gander.
No Art here, but the windows are the back office space of a nightclub that I used to manage (junior team member) called the Blue Orchid. It runs the whole length of the second half of St George’s Walk and held in excess of 1500 customers in its heyday. Happy times.
So the ‘gallery’ continues through the precinct…
…Translates as “I think you have an artichoke heart”. As you were..?
…nearing the front door of the club now…
At the side of the club we had a feeder bar, variously known as Cafe Moonshine, or Heroes at the time. It was quite large in itself, easily holding 300 happy punters every night!
Long since closed following a Compulsory Purchase Order for a project that never took off, its walls are now part of the public realm artwork.
And its quite a wall!!
This is actually the front door of the Blue Orchid; legendary in South London in its day! You can see the club door under the bronze coloured strip and above it the only Warhol inspired public realm contemporary piece I managed to see in situ.
Back along the street and you come to an area that, so far as I know, was the first area in Croydon given over to graffiti artists to use, before the art in public spaces was taken too seriously. Hope I’m not doing a disservice to anyone thinking that?!
So I’ll conclude my gallery with a look along that street, including some closer looks at what I think were the nicer pieces.
Hope you’ve enjoyed having a look around my local town!!
Some source links to art and artists:
Schoony – The Boy Soldier.
The Rise Gallery site. Specifically, the public realm page.
David Hollier’s site – Imago Verbosa explanation
Dotmasters site. Scroll down a little way to see the Croydon artwork being created.
Lauren Baker – creator of the neon under the bridge.
Art and Believe
3 thoughts on “Street art of Croydon”
I Love this post. I love street art. your photos are excellent. is there a “like” button? I can’t see one. hugs xxx
Oooh. I’ve no idea. I’ll have a look and see if I can’t add one!! Thanks for taking the time to have a look around!!!
Update: will see if I can add a WordPress like button but I think I went for the sharing options with twitter etc at the bottom of each blog post primarily. I think the WordPress ‘like’ is available via the plus button. Will work on making it visible. Great feedback! Thank you!!
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