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’ve been meaning to visit and post this blog for ages, ever since our visit to The Vintage Event at The Balham Bowls Club whet our appetites for more vintage fare. It’s well hidden on the high street, save for a placard on the pavement advertising the shop above a hairdressers (indeed, in an attic).
The first thing that struck us was the space – so many vintage shops cram everything in making it really hard to browse properly. Clothing and furniture are almost treated like art, and the attic itself is light and airy.
Annie In The Attic (the girls behind The Vintage Event) are a mother and daughter team who share the task of sourcing and selling. The mother has an eye for 60s vintage while the daughter often picks up fashion finds from the 80s to sell, so you’re guaranteed a fab mix of fashion.
Prices vary as you’ll find some unique pieces there and the pricing can reflect this. There’s a rail of wedding attire to the right of the store and we spotted the most fabulous shift dress with real ostrich feathers, not dissimilar to a Louise Vuitton number as modelled by Kate Moss. We doubt it’s there now – indeed a recent, heart-broken customer had to leave it on the rail as she couldn’t quite fit into it, otherwise it would have been long gone before we got there.
During our visit we snapped up an old find displayed in one of their cabinets – a King Edward VIII coronation commemorative mug. At £8, it’s not a bad price for a bit of history that didn’t quite happen.
Annie In The Attic, Balham High Road, SW12 9AP
Regular commuters and users of Balham underground station can’t fail to notice a plaque fixed discreetly to the wall between the escalators and barriers, commemorating those who died during the bomb attacks in World War II.
Copyright tezzer57 (flickr.com)
Then I came across this article of new pictures found from the devastating era, including two from Balham high street picturing the aftermath of the aforementioned bomb. It had happened in the dark and a double decker bus, not seeing the devastation, drove into the black hole created by the bomb.
The pictures make pretty horrifying viewing to say the least – the hundreds of businesses and lives ruined. Yet it’s also a fascinating scene of what Balham used to look like over 70 years ago. All very humbling.