Covid has given retail a right royal kicking. With people stuck at home, many have swapped their shopping habits from the high street to the internet. Where Amazon and the rest have benefited, shops from Debenhams to our local gift shop Max & Melia are shuttering. Take a walk through the City of London and you’ll see a retail graveyard. Even Piccadilly, in the heart of the West End, has space to rent.
Unfortunately, the same is true in our neighbourhood. Vauxhall styles itself as The Vibrant Place though some of its vibrancy has washed away as shops and restaurants close. The same is true of empty railway arches at Vauxhall Cross. To be fair two places I always liked, Counter Vauxhall Bar and Brasserie and the motorbike shop Metropolis, closed before the pandemic took hold.
Vauxhall One, the local business improvement district, does huge amounts to keep Vauxhall clean and green and they commissioned a series of murals to paper over the empty spaces.
The artists have done a great job, but in many ways I’m ambivalent about the whole project. The pictures brighten up the place but I’d far rather there were thriving businesses in their place.
For art we can go to the Damien Hirst Gallery on Newport Street or Tate Britain just over the river.
But don’t let me put you off, take a stroll to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, and look at what the artists have achieved. Some of the paintings are exquisite.
Here are the artists along with their Instagram links
Mr Penfold (Tim Gresham)
Luke Smile, a typographic artist
Susheel Basra, graphic designer
Illustrator Roxane Dewar
Italian artist and illustrator Gianinna Delpino
Botanical print designer Leila Vibert Stokes
Collage designer and animator Flavia Felipe
Graphic designer Craig Yamey
Muralist, illustrator and self-professed doodler Luke Embden
Artist and graphic designer NERONE
Thomas Kirk Shannon, VAULT Creative Arts
The featured image at the top is by Gianinna Delpino