How many commuters and shoppers, busy to reach their destinations from the tube or the buses, walk past murals without noticing them, especially when they lose their initial vibrancy or suffer from the graffiti of other street artists? Commuters travelling to and from Goodge Street underground station may not notice the amount of detail and history of the area that is incorporated into the mural which covers the whole gable wall of a building on Whitfield Gardens facing Tottenham Court Road. Here recorded are the villians who sought to redevelop the area in the 1960’s and 1970’s and the people who are part of the history of the area – those who lived here such as Dylan Thomas, nurses, tailors, architects, builders, window cleaners and disk jockeys. Included are representations of the colourful activities of nearby Soho and of traffic clogging up the streets, as it does today.
Running in parallel with Heritage England’s exhibition of post-war public art, Arup in Fitzrovia are hosting an exhibition of photographs by Nigel Moore of the Fitzrovia Mural painted in 1980 by Simon Barber and Mick Jones which have been enhanced to recreate the original colours, now faded. This is real public art – commissioned by Camden Council for created tin partnership with the local community, drawing attention to the struggles in the area against potential threats of redevelopment in the 1960′s and 1970′s which would have destroyed the community, the character of the area and many of the historic buildings. In 2006, the Fitzrovia Mural was voted one of the top ten murals in London.
Hooray! The London Borough of Camden has agreed to restore the mural as part of the regeneration of Tottenham Court Road linked to the opening of Crossrail in 2018, which will repair the cracks, recreate the original vivid colours and remove the graffiti at the base. Hopefully those busy commuters will then stop and spend time to consider the story that the mural tells, one that is still relevant in the 21st century.