A new generation of muralists is emerging in south London. The first students to attend the Lewisham School of Muralism — the first of its kind in the UK — have completed their courses, brightening up the streets of southeast London in the process.
Led by Artmongers, a local mural-making collective, six students were tasked with bringing to life two striking pieces of street art, each designed in collaboration with community groups.
The school's first mural is inspired by the theme of migration. The students, along with eight locals with a connection to the theme, worked with the Migration Museum to design a large-scale piece for the exterior of Lewisham Shopping Centre, which currently houses the museum.
"We were particularly interested in treating this difficult issue with warmth and humanity", one student remarked, going on to stress the importance of ensuring that their work involves the communities it is based in.
The result? A richly-hued depiction of a doorway, with shoes scattered around a huge doormat welcoming viewers inside and inviting them to "leave prejudice at the door".
As well as transforming the shopping centre, Lewisham School of Muralism has also worked its magic on a railway arch at Thurston Road. This dreamy, underwater-themed tableau was created in collaboration with the Healthy Rivers Project, highlighting the road's proximity to the River Ravensbourne.
"One of our challenges was to adapt our narrative to the shape of the canvas", school founder Patricio Forrester said. "With that in mind, we proposed painting a scene on the river as if the viewer was lying down on the riverbed looking upwards, seeing the backlit fish and sky above as well as the light captured of the surface of the water."
"We were bombarded by gratitude from passers-by", one student remarked. "Quite a few said that the mural had transformed a space which had previously felt scary into a place which felt safer and brighter."
In the coming months, the neighbourhood is set to become brighter still — London School of Muralism's second course is already underway, and the plan is to run a third later in the year. If you'd like to support their work, either as a volunteer, a patron, or even by donating a wall, click here.
All images © Helen Murray Photography