It’s not just West Norwood who have gone to lengths to inject some creativity onto the high street.
Over the past few months Balham High Road has had a little arty makeover of its own, and it looks like it’s down to one person.
Photo: Tod Hanson
Tod Hanson is an artist specialising in large-scale work. Previous projects have included graphic works with Greenpeace UK and painting the interiors of nightclubs. Most recently he was set the task of giving Balham a paint job, the results of which can be seen on the street next to Waitrose, covering up what was previously known at the ‘ugly wall’.
Tod was commissioned by Wandsworth Council and the Balham Partnership, with the help of arts company Modus Operandi art to create this piece. Look closely and you’ll see that the paintwork gives a nod to the history of Balham. A digital piece, it’ll remain in place for three years.
Photo: Tod Hanson
Tod was also the man behind the new green ceramic tiling by the station, just underneath the railway bridge. Not a bad way to liven up a poorly lit, damp part of town.
Photo: Tod Hanson
Now where else in south London could do with a lick of paint?
We’d never heard of Brixton East before being invited to a wedding there recently, but it’s mere moments from Brixton Village and several minutes walk from the main road.
An old furniture warehouse, the two floor space is now used for pop-up events (their website gives a snapshot of what’s been there before, including yoga and brunch days).
Wooden flooring, exposed brickwork and original features (check out the old giant clock on the second floor) make this a cosy setting for an urban wedding.
There’s also a small roof terrace which quickly became a smokers corner. We forgot to take a picture but some clever soul had thought to use old mattress springs as a frame for wall plants – now that’s upcycling taken to a new level.
Our friends hired the lighting adorning the walls, along with the candles dotted around, while the absolutely stunning flowers were from McQueens.
The best bit? It’s the most local wedding we’ve ever been to, requiring a 10 minute bus ride home Win.
Brixton East 1871, 71 Gresham Road, SW9 7NS
This not-so-humble road, a stone’s throw from Clapham Junction station and Battersea territory, has an exhaustive list of shops, restaurants and cafes so for now we’ve built a small snapshot.
Sure, there’s the high street chains – Oliver Bonas, Phase Eight, Whistles, Bill’s, Byron, Franco Manca, Nando’s, and so on – but we can’t forget the local independent gems too.
Pictures for sale on their Saturday street market
Inside Hutton’s on Northcote Road
Many of the gift shops are admittedly hard to tell apart, as a lot of them sell pretty much the same stuff, but as ever the key is in the little quirks. In Hutton’s they post a daily horoscope on the counter (when they can remember to – the cashier admitted it’s easy to forget on a busy day) and their gift bags have recipes printed on them.
Flip the bag over for the recipe – cute!
Outside Hamish Johnston
We’re building a little hit list of places to eat, drink and shop (oh hello Hamish Johnston, you look like a cheese haven), but let us know if there’s anywhere in particular that deserves a shout out.
Ah, Brixton. Whether you love it or hate it (we love it) it’s such a transport hub that you’ll inevitably pass through at some point.
If you take the tube from Brixton you’ll obviously know about the ongoing escalator works which basically means only two are in action at all times. When it’s rush hour, you’re faced with scenes like this:
Scenes outside Brixton tube during rush hour
They’ve since introduced barriers to control the crowds (note to self, get off the bus at St. Matthews’ Estate to avoid a futile walk), but at the wrong time of day, the queue can stretch up to H&M on the main street.
Shot taken by @GMHutchins on Twitter
We’re told to expect this until July, and while we’ve been recommended to try other routes to avoid the bottleneck, friends who’ve attempted to travel to Stockwell or beyond say it doesn’t speed up the journey.
While the long-term result is meant to mean a smoother experience (though who knew escalators took that long to work on?), Brixton also faces further change with the closure of the ticket hall. Sure, we have machines, but queues to top up our Oyster cards are already extensive.
Campaigners have grouped together to call for the ticket office to be reopened, citing Boris Johnson’s 2008 pledge to prevent such things from happening. If you want to get in on the action, check out their website here.
In the meantime, roll on July…
Walk along West Norwood high street on a Sunday and you’ll notice that the some shop shutters are more creative than your average.
It’s part of a long-term investment from the Outer London Fund to smarten up city boroughs, which has been reflected in the likes of FEAST (check out our post on the monthly event here) and basically sprucing up the image of the high street.
The simple illustrations feature prominent buildings (recognise St Luke’s Church?) and the bright colours are a refreshing alternative to a drab, grey landscape.