Deep Shelter Mural Painted by 7th Pencil in Clapham North

A giant mural has been painted onto an underground shelter in Clapham North. Originally built in order to provide respite from attacks during world war two, it is a prominent landmark which has been painted by the artist, 7th Pencil.

All sides of the building have been painted with a tribute to female mural artists both past and present. The WOM collective, who have supported the project, are depicted alongside a group called ‘London Wall’. This latter collective were an all female group of muralists active in the 80’s and 90’s around London.

7th Pencil – It took a month to paint the whole of the deep shelter

Labour of Love

Such is the size of the mural, it’s a piece that took a whole month to complete. For 7th Pencil it was a labour of love. Working with Charlotte Bill from the Clapham Film Unit. It was Charlotte who had originally instigated the project working with funding from the Mayor of London’s untold stories grant programme. Initially getting in touch with the WOM Collective, it led to a series of design submissions being provided for local people to decide upon. 7th Pencil’s design eventually being the one the public voted for.

Part of the mural as seen through some of the fencing surrounding the site.

Deep Shelter

Situated on the road heading from Clapham North to Stockwell. The space had for some years been overgrown and in many ways derelict. The area around the building needing to be cleared of vegetation and it’s walls repaired prior to any possible artwork. Probably the best place to catch a view of the artwork on the structure is from the other side of the A3. From there the circular tower shaft can be seen peering over the boundary wall. One of deep shelters in the area it was built to house local people from air raids. Inside it sinks deep into the earth. Re-enforced with steel beams and concrete, as an engineering project it’s quite something.

The mural seen from across Clapham Road

Inspiring Artists

Central to the piece is a portrait of mural artist Carleen De Sozer. A Brixton based artist herself, she is great inspiration to 7th Pencil personally. A portrait of Carleen is shown from the roadside. She appears with a pair of wings staring down a flying aerosol can. 7th Pencil described it as an interpretation of the creative process. This idea of needing to come face to face with different parts of yourself in order to tap into that creativity within you.

Street artist Carleen De Sozer is shown staring down a flying spray can

Flying Spray Cans

The idea of the winged spray can is something that 7th Pencil introduces a lot within her work. Many of the cans she uses in her installation work as well as in painting are shown as crushed but with wings. A kind of metaphor for renewal as spray cans in particular are often just discarded once used. Flowers too are often shown and that’s certainly the case with this latest piece. “I like flowers because they symbolise death and rebirth, they bloom and die and bloom and die. It’s cyclical, it’s what life is”.

7th Pencil is an artist who plays with the idea of death and rebirth within her work

Strong Women

Around the mural other strong personal female inspirations are shown. It includes a further portrait of Carleen De Sozer, this time shown sideways on and appearing from the side. Another shows LeSpleen, another artist admired by the artist. Eyes peering beyond a mask with paint splatters around her, she exudes confidence. In another portrait, a friend is shown. Depicted behind a pair of sunglasses, London can be seen reflected in them, a nod to the city.

The eyes of muralist LeSpleen looks out from the rotunda of the building

New Lease of Life

It’s a mural which has already transformed this corner of Clapham Road. Bright and full of colour, it has turned this unloved concrete cylinder into something really quite spectacular. The space around it cleared and made good, it’s a space that has been given a new lease of life. It’s a piece that celebrates not only women and women artists but something that plays with ideas around renewal and creativity.

7th Pencil painting the deep shelter in Clapham

The mural on the deep shelter in Clapham North was painted by 7th Pencil. It has been supported by Charlotte Bill from the Clapham Film Unit, the WOM Collective and the artist Solo One. It was funded by the Mayor of London untold stories fund. The mural took a month to complete starting on 8 April 2023 and finishing on 8 May 2023. The mural was visited by Inspiring City on the 8th May.

For other Inspiring City articles you might like, take a look at:
The mural recognises the work of London Wall a collective of female artist from the 80’s and 90’s
The back of the mural shows a portrait of Carleen De Sozer along with the artist and her friend painted a wall at the nearby Stockwell Hall of Fame
Artist with her own muse
Adding to the mural detail
7th Pencil finally finished

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