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?
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.
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.
It’s taken a while but the weather is definitely losing some of its edge and with the days getting brighter it’s time for a bit of a spring spruce up (pfft like we needed an excuse to shop).
There are some great gems sold by south London dwellers that will make easy additions to your home.
1) Clapham Bandstand Print, from £35 (unframed), Postcode Prints – we mentioned this local print company on our post about FEAST. Their limited edition prints are a cute and quirky way to illustrate the area and we’re particularly taken with this picture of Clapham.
2) West Norwood Tea Towel, £8, Ray Stanbrook Prints – we found this on Etsy, and there are tea towels for several other towns including Crystal Palace, Wimbledon and Brixton. Almost a bit too nice to use to dry your dishes, though…
3) Rob Ryan Bells Cushion, £30, Fred & Pickles – when splashing out on a new sofa isn’t an option. Fred & Pickles is a gorgeous boutique site run by a team in the Balham area.
4) Fridge magnet, £4.95, The Indigo Tree – spring clean your mind? Naff as it sounds, but we find that a good old mantra can help motivate you on a dreary day.
5) Candle, from £15, Charlotte Harley Candles – Hither Green based Charlotte sells beautiful soy wax scented candles through Etsy. The scent has a good throw and a great way to get a fresh fragrance into your home. Plus they’re way cheaper than your average posh candle.
Since owning a property we’ve been a big giddy about being able to, y’know, do stuff to the walls. Paint! Blutack! Okay maybe not the sticky stuff, we’re not students anymore. We’ve graduated onto buying prints and hanging them up (nails! Into walls!), but first, we need to get them framed.
Sadly it’s not cheap, but we’re telling ourselves that we’ll have these pictures and prints forever. Still, save up a little before you go, or at least expect to pay a more than you think and you won’t be *too* shocked.
We’ve tried a couple of places in Balham. Noel Studios is also a gift shop, making it easier than ever to part with your dosh. They did a good job of framing our Italian illustration and helped to choose between mounts and colour finishes (who knew?).
The Italian illustration framed by Noel Studios, Balham
More recently we’ve been using the services of Ian’s Artworks. Mimi is so passionate about art and her job that it’s infectious. She loves seeing what people bring in and really helps you find the best way to frame your piece of art. She recently worked on our south London illustration we picked up at the Postcode Prints stall at West Norwood FEAST (which we blogged about a couple of months ago).
The Postcode Print of south London framed by Ian’s Artworks
The framing cost around £55, but if you get multiple items framed it’s possible to try and get a small discount. You can find more about this company via their Twitter profile.