ATM talks about his giant bird mural on Coppermill Lane in Walthamstow
ATM has become well known for his giant classic paintings of birds. They’ve popped up all over London and indeed in spots around the rest of the country for the past few years and instantly attract attention wherever they are painted.
This isn’t your more traditional street art, there are no spray cans, instead ATM has a palette on which he mixes his paints and each work of art takes days not hours. The result are elegant paintings usually depicting birds with a current or former connection to the locality.
His current piece on the entrance to Coppermill Lane just around the corner from the St. James Street overground station in Walthamstow is his biggest yet. It took a month to complete and depicts seven species of bird all heading towards the Walthamstow Wetlands. The mural is part of a project sponsored by the St. James Big Local, a community project aimed at making the St James area a better place to live.
There are a variety of birds depicted. Some which pass through such as the Bittern & Redshank, some that are here all year round like the Cormorant, Heron, Kingfisher, Shoveler and Duck and then the swifts which travel here to nest for the summer before moving on.
Of the species all can be seen in the area of the wetlands around Walthamstow with the Bitten the only rarity. “It’s a bit of an aspirational thing really” ATM told me as to why he depicted that particular species. The Bittern I learn is attracted by the prevalence of reed beds something they need for breeding. These are something of a rarity in the UK nowadays but there is active work going on in the wetlands area to bring the reed beds back and this will hopefully attract more Bitterns to the area, making the environment even more special.
After meeting at the mural we take a walk down towards the old Victorian Engine House along Blackhorse Road. There ATM tells me the tower is being made into a nesting space for swifts who will stay for the summer. There is a lot of work going on in the area and the ultimate ambition is to turn the Walthamstow reservoir into Europes largest urban wetland centre. To say that it is in the middle of the East End it’s already a quite remarkable space.
The ambitions in this part of the world to reclaim space for wading birds is impressive and it’s a project which ATM’s particular brand of street art is well suited. He also has a number of other murals in the area, one of a wagtail on Aubrey Road and another of a Goshawk at the other end of Coppermill lane nearer to the reservoir. Walthamstow is certainly an area that seems to particularly enjoy his brand of art.
ATM was interviewed at the Coppermill lane mural on Monday 29 May 2017. For more information about the work of ATM check out our 2014 interview with him here. For more information about the street art of Walthamstow featuring art by ATM check out the following two articles:
ATM Coppermill Lane mural gallery