Let streets reflect those who live in the neighbourhood

COMMENT: How long will it be before Camden’s most famous mural is painted over with a logo of a bank, private health firm or betting company?

Thursday, 30th June

mill lane mural Image 2022-07-01 at 3.05.05 PM (13)

Gemma Watson’s sister Hannah at the bridge with a picture of her

THERE was an uplifting scene this week on the Mill Lane bridge as dozens of delighted children stream­ing home from primary school saw their artistic creations up on the bridge for the first time, (For Gemma: Bridge art is restored in West Hampstead, July 1).

It was also a day for reflection for the family of Gemma Watson at the mural she painted more than 20 years ago.

Her father spoke about how it used to give him comfort driving back home from work. Her sister’s own children will no doubt come back to the bridge in perhaps decades to come and share blurry memories of a happy day out painting with family and friends in the sun.

Projects like this one, a long time in the making, do more than just bring a splash of colour to a greyish corner. It gives people, children in this case, a sense of ownership to the streets they live in. And sometimes a history lesson.

Wall plaques, historically, have been put up to the eminent and high achievers, mainly male, but those who so often have had more than a head start on the rest.

What about the people who made a difference to people’s lives simply through the way they are with one another?

Official or not, there should be more for actual people, like John Henderson and his three-legged dog Sugar.

It is just a subtle addition to the West End Lane bridge, but one that might make people pause for thought and consider their priorities.

Well done to those community campaigners who helped bring these improvements to West Hampstead.

If only the same could be said for Camden Town, which is resembling a bad circus act.

This week, the world’s third largest hamburger chain moved into the high street. Perhaps one of the last things this once bohemian market area needs right now is the arrival of another fast food chain.

To soften the blow, US firm Wendy’s came up with an edgy mural of its mascot painted up high. Even our street art is being monetised!

Just around the corner, a wall that once bore a funny image of former Home Secretary Theresa May during the hostile environment scandal has been replaced by an advert for a TV channel.

Camden’s most famous mural, perhaps one of the world’s most famous, is of course the one at Camden Lock.

Painted in 1989 by the artist John Bulley, the idea behind the famous two painters was to give the impression of a work that is never finished.

But how long will it be before even that icon is painted over with a logo of a bank, private health firm or betting company?

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