It’s been a while since I’ve bumped into Brian David Stevens on the streets of London, and now I know why. He has been hiding in a tunnel under Waterloo station, and you can see the results in a fine set of images on his web site, Graffiti.

© Brian David Stevens
From ‘Graffitti’ by Brian David Stevens

I have to admit that my heart sank when I saw that title, with everyone in the world now uploading even the merest lick of paint on a wall onto Flickr in their millions, but as I expected, his work is very different. And yes, I have occasionally photographed the odd Banksy or even rather better work on the wall, but I seldom inflict many of them on others. And one aspect of the Olympic sanitisation I found most disturbing was the fairly wholesale remove of the graffiti that have some areas of London much of their character.

Even more disturbing is the council’s vandalism on the Heygate estate at the Elephant, where they came and painted over the Heygate Community Garden paintings and murals. They appear to have “singled out for painting over the large and thoughtful pieces around the Community Gardens and pond” while leaving the pointless tags, nonsense and occasionally obscene scrawls on buildings over the rest of the estate.

But worse even than that is their decision to serve compulsory purchase orders on the small number of remaining owners living on Heygate. A statement by the Heygate Leaseholder’s Group begins:

Despite being situated just a few hundred yards from a zone 1 tube station, we are currently only being offered around half the Borough average price per sq. ft for our homes. The Compulsory Purchase Order will result in us being dispossessed of our homes and permanently priced out of central London.”

But of course as well as being particularly shoddy treatment for the owners – which they intend to fight – the whole saga of closing down the estate and its proposed redevelopment  is terrible news for Londoners, a real kick in the teeth for those on the huge housing lists, with thousands of habitable properties being kept empty for years. I’m told the graffiti had improved considerably since my visit in April

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Community pond on Heygate Estate

You can see some of my pictures and more of the story about the Heygate estate – and next on the Council’s hit list the nearby and larger Aylesbury estate in Heygate Estate ScandalHeygate Panoramas and Walking the Rip-Off – Heygate & Aylesbury.

Back to Brian David Stevens, don’t miss the other fine work on his site – I particularly like his stark black and white in Doggerland.

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