Hackney Wick is getting a fresh coat of paint just before the Olympics. Yes, even the Lord Napier:
The paintings refer to the past history of the area:
We deliberately designed the mural to be ambiguous and hopefully intriguing, in the hope that passersby would question the words and be interested to find out more...
Matchbox Cars after the recently demolished Lesney factory; Fridge Mountain because "it was the area’s biggest landmark pre-games. Towering about 20 ft into the air the monument of domestic appliance waste was the biggest heap of fridges in Europe"; The Cut after the Hackney Cut. And so on.
Round the corner the look is a bit less....professional:
Further east, along the Greenway, on the path from West Ham station to the Olympic Park, they've given the old water-pumping snail an exciting new paint job:
Most depressing, though, is the scene on the Greenway over towards Plaistow. I'd already noticed the fences by the bridge over the District Line, a favourite haunt of street artists going back years, and assumed they were the first step in a clean-up, but still held out some hope. That hope, it turns out, was misplaced. Here's what it looks like now:
All the glorious colour and creativity painted over in a grim Lubyanka Gray, with a threatening notice to add to the police-state frisson. As Diamond Geezer notes, this isn't even on the way to the Olympics. Newham Council are simply jumping on the general Olympic street art clampdown.
From the council website:
While some people think graffiti is an art from for most the reality is that it makes an area look untidy, is often offensive and adds to people's perceptions that an area is unsafe.
If graffiti is not removed it can encourage more anti-social behaviour and crime and make people feel frightened and intimidated.
Oh nonsense. There's a difference between casual tagging and the kind of organised street art scene that was thriving here before they got all jack-booted about it. I've seen the kids here; they'll always give you a nod, talk if you want to talk. The street art here was life-enhancing; it lifted the spirits; there was never anything remotely threatening about it. I think there's an unspoken "black" hovering around the kind of stereotypes the council are playing with.
Let's hope once the Olympics are behind us they'll decide there are better ways of spending council money than keeping a constant watch on some walls to make sure nothing colourful ever appears on them: