The Mural Designs!

Continuing the discussion from Sydenham Mural Planning:

Please be aware that these designs have been sent off to Network rail and The powers that be in Lewisham Council (as the wall lies in a “conservation area”. Therefore, no voting will be able to take place until these designs have been giving the all clear or in the unfortunate circumstance any are not, giving the designer/s opportunity to retweak as they see fit or not. There will also be a 5th option of keeping the wall as it is. Should this be most popular (or a voted design not raising enough money), as previously mentioned the spec inc budget, type of design and location will be looked at for changing to make this project a reality.

Ps: The abstract design, based on shapes found all around SE26, we hope to transpose onto the wall for parity between the designs. In addition please remember any winning designer will be required to produce two colour schemes to choose from.

Huge thanks to all the designers who have put the thought and time into submitting for the project.





Wow!!! Some absolute crackers there Jon.

I love the 1st and 4th :heart_eyes:

Fab to see the designs, I too love the 4th and 1st. Be great to see the final colours and fingers crossed on getting the designs approved.

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They’re all great but I think number 4.


Hi SE26,

I am new to your Forum but have been following the mural idea.

Particularly am impressed by how JMLF has brought the community together in this way plus to be so proactive on our behalf. I have lived in SE26 since around 2004.

However and it does seem like I’ll be in the minority here, but I am eventually posting because I really do not like the idea of a mural.

In my view these are an eyesore. There’s one up on Kirkdale and it just looks unnatural, not in keeping, just out of place.

It’s very important that the high street is smartened up. I really doubt a mural helps that.

For example if you go to an established, smart high street area, you will not be finding murals.

If though this is going ahead then the best design so far is ‘Sydenham’ on a dark blue background. The others are very jarring.

I do apologise for not being able to support you on this.


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I think high streets can be ‘smartened up’ while still being fun and creative. I’m always jealous when go to places like Brockley and see how vibrant it is around there thanks, in part, to all the wonderful street art they have. My favourite is the first one.


I’ve been trying to think more on this today.

My perspective comes down to that I’m not a great fan of street art. It can in my opinion often be ugly, garish, unsophisticated and it is imposed onto us.

Here’s an article I’ve just found, which echoes my views, describes further:

Art is my key interest, I run art galleries. So in some ways I’m surprised that I have this inflexibility around street art because I appreciate creativity and often all sorts of art.

Regarding art, I think what I place most value on is authenticity.

And the mural for example feels to me unnatural, imposed and jars aesthetically.

I do really like Lee Newham’s (sp?) collage though at the back of The Greyhound. It’s a real shame that it is not more visible. It’s unique, has meaning and is extremely well executed.

Please do note I am very conscious of JMLF’s efforts, I can see his initiative has created a lot of positivity and brought people together.



Hi Joanne,
Thanks for adding to the conversation. First of all everyone is entitled to their opinions and should not attract any negative comments. Appreciate that you can see the other side of the argument such as bringing the community together for a project. I have been involved in a couple of the meetings hence feel a bit more involved. I know Jon has spoken to couple of primary schools, local businesses and the Sydenham Assembly. We don’t want to impose anything which isn’t wanted by majority of people. I must say so far we have had overwhelmingly positive reactions. Currently awaiting approval of the designs and then voting will go live for decent period of time so everyone can contribute, have a think about the designs and vote. We are particularly trying to engage those not on social media. However there will be an option for no mural so all opinions can be considered and voted for. I think what is positive for me is that all designers are local and it gets people talking.
Let’s see how this project develops!


The various conversations we’ve had about the mural have been very useful, and in this case, @Joanne’s comments are particularly useful and very well made.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype around a project like this, and to forget that it’s pure aesthetics - and a design will be liked by some and not by others. It’s important we find a design that doesn’t push the boundaries of taste.

I was in favour of either 1 or 4 but after reading Joanne’s comment I’m now leaning towards 4.

@Joanne As always any and all contributions and discussions are valid/useful and I’m just pleased a lot of people are involved or have heard about the project (e.g.: my wife went to a hairdressers near Penge East Station and when it came up in small talk one of the people in the salon piped up that they were following the project!).

I think one thing that should be thought about which will be flagged up (if people feel it’s a good ide) is that if you aren’t fussed then by all means not voting I think* is probably a good idea, however if you actively prefer to have the wall stay as it is to any design going up then a vote for the plain wall should take place. Any thoughts by people? It may give some idea to the wording of the blurb if this is felt an important point to make.

To add to @Sgc message, the following places have verbally stated they will have the designs up and a ballot box:
2 x local secondary schools (*not primary as previously mentioned)
TNG youth centre
Kirkdale Bookshop
Cherry and Ice
The lovely gallery
Inkwa Tattoos (tbc but hopeful)

The following have stated they will have something up (whether all options and a ballot box or a poster only due to space etc…)
Mabel’s 5 and dime
Blue Mountain
Bobs wines

Waiting to hear back from:
161 food and drink
Sainsbury’s (Bell green and local)
Sydenham library
The Post Office
The Sydenham Centre

As Sarah mentioned we are trying to make this as accessible, known and community based as possible (even though I know it’s impossible to reach / please everyone!)

Thanks again for the kind words and contributing a particular view that I don’t think has been raised by anyone before - The subjectivity of art (and all arts) is one of the great things about it :slight_smile:


For me, apart from the positives of a a community based project, from a personal perspective I find that my day is immediately brightened up and improved by artwork, colours, images, typography, etc. There are both great pieces I enjoy and others which I really don’t and of course there are the more generic graffiti of tagging etc which for many people I imagine are an eyesore.
For me, regardless of the quality of the art, (although I like everyone else will have their own tastes and preferences!) I don’t tend to walk past plain/blank hoardings, walls, bridges, unoccupied buildings and the sort and give it a second look let alone think what a nice bit of X. (I’m not saying there aren’t of course people that do love certain types of walls, buildings, brickwork etc). So for me, the majority of things I see improves my journey by making me notice what’s around and think about whatever it is I’m looking at. I do agree that streetart generally doesn’t “smarten up” an area (I can’t remember the words you mentioned) and think that even objectively (I use that term with trepidation!) good/great art would probably make a place less tidy/smart just by being what it is - not a plain wall, well kept wall etc. Possibly these are a couple of decent examples in Dulwich? I personally love them but I would hazard a guess that most people wouldn’t say it makes a place smarter…


I think i’m quite lucky that I work in Croydon that has a wealth of street art, for my personal opinion from brilliant to terrible and everything in between but it really does make my day/commute so much more enjoyable/interesting. Here are a few of my faves (amongst others)I am lucky to pass daily:


No 4 for me. Very classy

Some amazing nearby street art there, Jon - good post!


I think some of the Street Art you’ve posted is certainly interesting. Plus I hear what you say.

Currently we have a Pop Up Gallery in East Dulwich, so right by some of the examples you’ve shown. Plus when I drive home go past the mural in Forest Hill and due to it’s position, in an otherwise ‘darkish’ place I like it.

Perhaps thinking on this more there is some potential of manoeuvre on my perspective? :slight_smile:

But back to the SE26 mural - I cannot yet see the purpose of any of the designs.

Anyone would already know they are arriving or leaving Sydenham surely?

Out of the designs options, I prefer ‘Sydenham’ on a dark blue background. But I do still think that will look out of place. Getting the brickwork itself cleaned I believe would look great.

Considering the level of backing you appear to be achieving plus clearly an intention to improve SE26, I just wonder if this could be channeled into another direction, other than a mural?


I actually find number 4 is barely street art and will not function in its intended capacity. Ie it is not striking and few people will even notice it. It also doesn’t really impart much aesthetic or say anything about what Sydenham is really about. The others are far superior IMHO although of course this is all hot air since it will all go to a public vote :slight_smile:

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How would anyone or everyone know they were arriving in Sydenham is a question you ask.

At the first meeting regarding the concept of whether a “gateway” sign was crucial or not - a common view emerged that it was not. Nor was there any strong view emergent that people would or would not know they were arriving or leaving Sydenham

Fact is that as one progresses from location to location in SE London, the traveller has no real certainty about which borough or ward the traveller is in.

The murals around Sydenham’s immediate neighbours are warm, welcoming and most importantly to people, informative.

Jon has taken the project this far and two key votes are imminent. One to approve the design and location and equally importantly a second, to elect to contribute to the funding.

Please feel free to attend the meetings and debate your views. Some of us have done so already and have a detailed understanding of the constraints and equally importantly, future opportunities.

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Hi jgdocerty

I’m unclear what your point is. Are you saying that the purpose of the potential mural is a ‘gateway sign’?

Initially you say this was not deemed needed and then describe people don’t have certainty about where they are? Are you sure about that? It’s very difficult to get lost these days.

I have been following the mural concept from the beginning and eventually posted because I really do not like the idea at all. My questions / reasons are as follows:

  • what is the purpose?
  • will it smarten the place up?
  • SEE3 have already introduced graffiti to SE26 (at the same time it was getting removed). Subsequently we now have graffiti on shop shutters and elsewhere. It is misinformed to think this is cool, the way to go. SE26 is not Shoreditch. We are not an art based, cutting edge neighbourhood. So why try to copy another location which started decades before and grows, evolves organically. Instead what about an authentic identity?
  • SE26 High Street is lined with very attractive buildings. There are some great shops too, the shop signage though is not great in many cases.
  • There could easily be an exciting, cost effective project to help improve shop signage plus to attractively advertise empty spaces. Attach an example

Back to the mural design options:

  • My understanding this would be on the bridge in SE26
  • Designs 1 and 3 are ghastly, an absolute eyesore. They are literal, garish, unsophisticated, resembling graffiti
  • Design 2 would more suit a local gift card
  • Design 4 - it’s the least inoffensive, hence my choice, but would also look out of place
  • I note all the opinion poll locations, but the outcome will not end up representative. Who pops to Sainsburys or the Post Office and has time to then consider or even wants to consider a mural? Therefore, unless planning permission is required, I think the choice will end up coming down to a very small number of people involved i.e: this forum
  • Art is of course subjective. But currently I cannot see why these designs (1,3,4) even fall into the category of art!

Why at all is my question?

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Just to pick up on this point:

From what I can see, @JMLF has gone out of his way to reach as many people as possible. Considering he won’t be paid or compensated in any way, he’s made a commendable effort here.

Jon has approached shops, schools, multiple online forums, social media (working hard to build a following), and the Sydenham Society, which is able to reach thousands of residents that are interested in local affairs. The design will be chosen in an inclusive way across multiple venues.

I hope too that posters are able to be put up near the wall so everyone affected by the mural will be informed of it.

But technically I don’t think @JMLF is required to go to anywhere near these lengths. The owner of the wall (Network Rail, I believe) needs to be happy with the design, and the council needs to approve it (from a conservation area standpoint). From a purely technical point of view, that’s all that’s required.

Fortunately, winning the hearts and minds of the wider Sydenham community is important to Jon, and everyone involved in the project too.

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Please call me John.

In every event my name IS jgdoherty…

As you say you have been following the concept from the beginning - so why wait until some several weeks before raising your objection(s).

Once more, please come to the meetings and debate your issues there.

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Joanne is entitled to say what she wants, when she wants, as is every member of (provided they follow our guidelines)

Let’s not make this personal please.