Tag Archives: Brixton Academy

The Brixton Week Ahead (plus the weekend)

Tuesday 20: This one is for the film buffs only – it’s film quiz night at The Ritzy Upstairs bar. Tickets are on sale from 6pm. Competition is tough.

Thursday 22: Herne Hill’s live jazz bar, the Poet Bar on Railton Rd, plays host to the Collective Jazz Jam – listen along with a cocktail in hand and try to pretend the summer’s still here.

Friday 23: The Magic Tombolinos are playing live at The Hootananny. It’ll be a classic Hootananny night – gypsy, ska and Balkan music. And keep an eye out for Pete Doherty (though not in the Hootananny…), playing at the Brixton Academy tonight.

Saturday 24: The legendary Fridge closed earlier this year and today Electric Brixton opens in its place. For £15 with advance tickets, you can attend the Grand Opening and dance all night to music from Felix Da Housecat and Hannah Holland.

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Weekend Ahead in Brixton

Friday: A new gallery is opening today on the Camberwell/Brixton border, just off Coldharbour Lane. It’s called Coldharbour London, it’s in a beautiful warehouse space and it’s very ‘Shoreditch’. In this opening exhibition, ‘Illumination’, five contemporary artists play with ideas of light. Most beautiful is ‘Twins’ by Lawrence Lek.

Update: A few of you on Twitter have also been recommending the return of the Sambalanca night at Living Bar – disco, dub, Afro, and Tropical rythms from these Camberwell DJs. Free before 11pm, £3 after.

Saturday: Fat Freddy’s Drop are playing at the Brixton Academy and Reggae Roast – a new London reggae collective – are hosting the after party at Plan B. Plan B, Brixton Rd. Free before 11pm, £5 after.

Sunday: It’s the Brixton Farmers’ Market on Station Rd until roughly 1pm – Dulwich bakery Coco are joining the traders from this Sunday, selling cakes with ‘floral’ flavours such as elderflower and rose. In the evening, Simo Lagnawi is playing traditional Moroccan Gnawa music at Ritzy Upstairs.

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Market madness and nuclear nightmares: Brixton’s murals

Brixton has some of the best remaining murals in London. Brixton Blog got Ruth Miller, from the London Mural Preservation Society, to take us on a tour

Ruth Miller wanted to organise a walk around Brixton murals, inspired by a thread about Brixton walks on the urban 75 forum, but when she set about researching the murals she found there was almost no information out there. So she ordered up books, searched the archives, contacted the artists and, in 2010, set up the London Mural Preservation Society. Now, finally, she can do those Brixton Mural tours – and she took me on one this month.

First up was the Brixton Academy Mural, above, completed in 1982 by Stephen Pusey. Like many of the murals in Brixton, it was commissioned by the council after the Brixton riots and its theme is obviously racial harmony. There’s something a bit tacky but undeniably  endearing about it. The children are scaled up all wrong and the colours, having been painted in pure pigment, are still glaringly bright. Pusey took part in consultations with the residents in the area and, unsurprisingly, it turned out that they didn’t want anything too depressing in the post-riot landscape. So the bright colours are fitting. “If you watch an old Grange Hill, that’s kind of what the playground in this mural is like”, says Miller. “But it really was like that – the kids were a bit poorer and people weren’t that well off to buy their kids cool clothes”.

The mural cost thousands to make, but once it was built there was no responsibility on the part of the council or the owner of the wall (in this case the 02 Academy) to maintain or repair the painting. It is now fading, peeling and being destroyed by bad weather. This is a story we will encounter again and again on the tour, and one Miller intends to put right.

Can you see all the Lambeth symbols in the mural above? The bricks represent Brixton (think about the platforms at Brixton Underground), the Swan is Stockwell, the gates are there for Gateley Rd, and the Brixton Rec logo is in there somewhere too. This painting, along with the one below, is on Bellefields Rd and was painted in 1987 by a collection of women from the London Wall Art Group.

Ruth Miller has gone to great lengths to talk to the artists involved in the mural painting project of the 1980s – and there were an extraordinary number of them. When someone added to Wikipedia the names of the artists behind the Brixton Station murals (see below) – Angie Biltcliffe and Karen Smith -, she went on a hunt to find them. But Angie has just died in November 2010 and Miller still hasn’t been able to locate Karen Smith. Their works, however, are some of the best in Brixton.

“I really like these. You can see the one at the top of the stairs when the train arrives and they both really reflect the atmosphere of the market – the diversity of foods and strange things you can find there. But they’re not even protected by a varnish or anything.”

What colours!

And now for the best of them all. Brixton’s most famous mural – Nuclear Dawn. It was painted by Brian Barnes and Dale McCrea between 1980-1981, at the peak of the Cold War, and this year it will be 30 years old. On 20 February, Brian Barnes will be giving a talk on the work at the Dogstar pub.

Nuclear Dawn was one of several ‘peace murals’ commissioned around London during this time, including Ray Walker’s peace mural on Dalston Lane. Nuclear Dawn features a frightening skeletal figure walking over London as nuclear bombs drop and, under the Houses of Parliament, the elected politicians including Thatcher hide in a bunker.

Sadly that bunker is now covered by graffiti and much of the mural has been damaged by trees growing too close to the wall. Ruth Miller succeeded in getting the trees cut down last year, but she is still hoping for some more extensive renovation to preserve the painting properly. “It’s my favourite mural”, she says. “As kids we were very scared of it”.

There were two more peace murals in Brixton, but they were covered over when new housing was built on Vining St and Rushcroft Rd. You can still get a glimpse of them if you look carefully:

This is by Fujiyama, facing Atlantic Rd. And if you walk in the opposite direction, along Vining Street to Rushcroft Rd, and look up, you’ll see this flash of blue:

It’s poor solace for what we’re missing out on, though. This flickr photo shows the original on Vining Street.

It would be a real shame if any more murals in Brixton were lost or destroyed. And there sure are more of them. Below is ‘Big Splash’ on Glenelg Rd, a rather joyful and idealised painting of life in Brixton. The river is based on the Effra, the vases around the side make reference to the Royal Doulton factory once based in Lambeth and the children are all local kids.

Our final mural is a surprising one. Tucked behind Acre Lane on Mauleverer Rd, it is absolutely huge. The picture below shows only one part of it. It was inspired by Brockwell Park, but the best bit about it is that a resident living opposite reputedly asked for a Caribbean beach view to be inserted into the Brockwell Park pavillion. The perfect view to wake up to every morning…

To find out more about the London Murals Preservation Society and to take part in Ruth Miller’s mural tours (which take in more than we saw here), visit the website: http://londonmuralpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/

Brian Barnes, who painted Nuclear Dawn, will be speaking upstairs at the Dogstar at 12.30pm on 20 February in celebration of the 30-year anniversary of Nuclear Dawn. See here for details.

Ruth Miller, leading the tour


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The Weekend Ahead in Brixton

Thursday: The weekend starts early (as usual) in Brixton with the Open Decks night at Mango Landin’. Bring four of your favourite records and compete to win. Or just go and dance to someone else’s favourite tracks.

Friday: Plan B is hosting the warm-up party for the World B-Boy Championships, which will be taking place at Brixton Academy on Sunday. Some of the event’s DJs are on the line-up tonight, including DJ Renegade, Skeme Richards and Shortee Blitz.

Saturday: OxJam take over Windrush Square with a host of local businesses, market stalls and music to prepare us for their real ‘takeover’ of Brixton’s music venues on 23 October. For food: Now it’s no longer summer, it’s back to hot curries, plantain and lots of rice at Negril for the evening.

Sunday: All that partying/eating/more partying. It’s time for something a little more sedate. Ruth Miller of the London Mural Preservation Society is leading a Brixton Mural Walk with a pub stop along the way. Meet at 1pm at Stockwell Tube Station. She’s written some lovely blog posts about the murals here.

If you’re still in party mode, then head to Brixton Academy for the actual B-Boy Championships from 2pm-9pm.

And, in a weird musical fusion moment, end the day at Ritzy Upstairs with some country music from Ryan Carr and guests.


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The Brixton Weekend ahead

Saturday: It’s Open House weekend, so grab a catalogue from Brixton Library and get snooping. And tonight Plan B is launching its monthly Community night with a set from Detroit disco producer, Moodymann.

Sunday: Brixton Academy is offering the chance to take a look backstage from 10am-1pm as part of Open House, although to be honest the halls are not so much ‘hallowed’ as, well, rather shabby. After a quick lunch, there’s still a chance to catch The Illusionist at 1.30pm at the Ritzy and, from 7pm, there’s the Ubuntu Soul Session at Ritzy Upstairs.

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The Brixton week ahead

You’d expect this weekend to be a bit of a comedown after the revels of the Lambeth Country Show. But tonight Brixton is buzzing – Erykah Badu is playing at the Academy, there’s an after-concert ‘jam’ at Plan B and the Alabama 3 are at Brixton Jamm with Outlaw, Acoustic and Unplugged and Alan Mcgee (DJ Set).

And there’s lots more to come this week:

Sunday 25: Set to be 26 degrees –  park, park, park, park. In the evening, enjoy the ‘Sunday Blues‘ music at Upstairs @ The Ritzy at 8pm.

Wednesday 28:  The Lido Cafe is holding the Summer Party, #2. There’ll be live flamenco guitar music and a BBQ. Nothing can bring back the dreamy BBQ parties of the pre-Fusion days – this is the next best.

Thursday 29: It’s the first public meeting to discuss the Co-op Council, from 6-8.30pm – see here for details and then go shout about what you want to happen. And at 7.30pm, a new zine is being launched at The Grosvenor Pub by the I Digress residency – it’s an illustration and short fiction zine put together by a group of local artists and authors who meet regularly at The Grosvenor. [UPDATE 27/7] And later in the evening, Gold Panda is playing at Rest is Noise – for free!

Friday 30: Six-piece reggae band, ‘The Drop’, are launching their EP at Hootananny, accompanied by Mr Benn and Serial Killaz.

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