These Are The Murals Of Brixton

By Zoe Craig Last edited 6 months ago
These Are The Murals Of Brixton

Since the 1980s, Brixton has been a hotbed of spectacular murals.

Many of Brixton's murals were painted by local artists and funded by Lambeth County Council and the GLC following the Brixton riots in 1981.

The tradition has continued in recent times when the David Bowie mural became something of a shrine following the singer's death in 2016.

Many murals have gone; victims of the inevitable redevelopment of the popular south London 'village'. Those pictured below remain, for now.  

1. Nuclear Dawn

Where: Carlton Mansions, 387 Coldhabour Lane, SW9 8QD
Who: Brian Barnes and Dale McCrea, 1980-1

Created at the height of the second cold war, when the threat of nuclear attack felt very real, this mural is steeped in the politics of its day. It features a giant skeleton looming over London, while a nuclear bomb ravages the city.

Nuclear Dawn, taken in 2015. Photo by Matt Brown.

The oldest mural on our list, Nuclear Dawn is currently under threat, as explained in this blog. We hope it can be restored to its former glory soon.

Browse more photos of this apolcalyptic mural here. You can see Brian Barnes' original design in watercolours, in the print room at the V&A.

2. Children At Play

Where: Brixton Academy, Stockwell Park Walk, SW9 9SL
Who: Stephen Pusey, 1981-1982

At 30ft by 40ft, Children At Play is one of London's largest murals.

It was painted in the months after the Brixton riots, and aimed to show the natural racial harmony between local children.

Children at Play. Photo by London Mural Preservation Society, taken 2010.

Pusey used Keim Silicate, a long-lasting paint which should see the mural last for up to 100 years, to create this work. Check out more photos of this mural here.

3. Slade Gardens Adventure Playground mural

Where: Slade Gardens Adventure Playground, Lorn Road, SW9 0AD
Who: by Gordon Wilkinson and Sarah Faulkner, c 1983

The Slade Gardens mural features the local people who worked and played at the playground, including the local vicar and a school dinner lady and her husband. It's a snapshot in time of the playground as it was in the 80s, as well as the surrounding buildings.

Photo of Slade Gardens Mural, taken 1980. London Mural Preservation Society.

Artist Gordon Wilkinson was once Lambeth's muralist in residence. This is his only surviving work. Browse more photos of the mural here.

4. Bellefields Road murals

Where: Bellefields Road, SW9 9UH
Who: London Wall Public Art, plus Eugene Palmer and John Saward, painted in 1987-88

The Bellefields Road murals are a patchwork of shapes, patterns, structures and symbols, denoting local names and buildings. Look out for the pile of bricks, representing Brixton (there's a similar motif at Brixton tube station); and the bell, for Bellefields Road.

Photo from 2013 by Stuart Sunley.

Elsewhere you can see abstract shapes from the local church; the Brixton Rec; the now lost Empress Theatre; and the green dome of the Brixton Road McDonald's.

When asked, local residents requested birds, flowers, and something non-political for this particular mural.

The second mural on the street, painted later, is of an an abstract beach with rocks, waves, foam and trippy sunset.

Photo, from 2013, by Stuart Sunley.

5. Big Splash

Where: 20 Strathleven Road, SW2 5LA
Who: Christine Thomas, assisted by Dave Bangs and Diana Leary, 1985

Big Splash tells the story of Brixton's hidden River Effra, with references to women who worked at the Lambeth Doulton factory in Vauxhall; there's a chap in a blazer, fresh from competing in the 1948 London Olympic Games.

Many of the people featured in the mural were local residents; the wildlife (swallows, grebes, geese, butterflies and flowers) is also local to Brixton.

Photo of Big Splash, taken 2010, by Stephanie Sadler.

We love the clever way the building's angles and actual window have been incorporated into the mural's watermill design.

Look out for the woman painting a vase in the picture: it's a self-portrait of the artist, Christine Thomas. Check out more photos here.

6. Brixton railway station murals

Where: Brixton railway station, Atlantic Road, SW9
Who: Karen Smith and Angie Biltcliffe, working under the name Anchor Designs, 1986

Two murals within Brixton railway station depict Brixton Market as it existed back in the 80s.

Clutter, Brixton Station. Photo from wikimedia commons.

'Clutter' includes flowers, framed pictures, fabrics, jewellery and more (see more here); 'Food' offers apples, oranges, watermelon, fish, dates, grapes, lemons, and pineapples for sale (again, there's more here).

Food, Brixton Station. Photo from wikimedia commons.

7. Stockwell War Memorial

Where: Stockwell Memorial Gardens, Clapham Road, SW9.
Who: Brian Barnes, 1999-2001.

Painted on the exterior of the entrance to a deep level shelter, this mural was created by Brian Barnes with the assistance of children from Stockwell Park School.

Stockwell War Memorial from wikimedia commons.

Look out for famous Stockwell residents such as as Violette Szabo, Vincent van Gogh, and Roger Moore as James Bond. It also commemorates locals who gave their life in the war.

8. The Windmill mural

Where: 143 Lyham Road, Brixton Hill, SW2 5PY
Who: Mick Harrison and Caroline Thorp, 1983; then Positive Arts in 2012

The first Brixton Windmill mural was revamped in 2012 by Positive Arts.

Photo of the Windmill Mural in 2012, by Mark.

Like the original, it tells the story history of Brixton's Windmill, London's only surviving inner-city windmill. The original shape around the windmill has been preserved.

9. David Bowie

Where: Tunstall Road, SW9 8BZ
Who: James Cochran, 2013

The David Bowie mural on the side of Morley's department building became something of a shrine following the singer's death in January 2016.

The Bowie Mural in April 2016. Photo by Sam Codrington.

As a result of the thousands of messages from fans, it has been necessary to repaint the mural a couple of times: since 2017, its been covered in protective plastic.

Did we miss any particularly spectacular Brixton murals? Let us know in the comments below.

With thanks to the brilliant London Murals Preservation Society.

Last Updated 29 March 2017