Brian in Wandsworth is 61-70 and is an artist..
Brian is passionate about his community and the role of art for political change. Trained at Ravensbourne College and The Royal College of Art he has never looked back, remarking “what else would I have done, flower arranging?” Since then he has been painting murals for over 40 years and was recently described by Time Out as an “uber-muralist,” due to his large scale paintings and prolific work.
Brian introduces us to his infamous mural from the 1970’s The Good the Bad and The Ugly (1978) a 276-foot mural painted on the wall of the Morgan Crucible Factory on Battersea Bridge Road. The mural was created with 60 members of the community but was controversially demolished only a year after it was painted by the Morgan Crucible Company. To this day Brian still holds on to last remaining painted bricks in his studio.
As you walk round South London today, Brian’s murals are still a striking presence in the community. Brian’s commitment to nuclear disarmament is still visible through his murals Nuclear Dawn (1981) in Brixton and Riders of the Apocalypse (1983) in New Cross. In Battersea, the inspiring Battersea in Perspective (1988) still stands on Dagnall Street and in Stockwell, commemorating the locals who gave their life to war, is the Violette Szabo Mural (2001).
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Film Maker: Daniel Onyia, Team Brian Barnes
Questions & Answers
- What's your first memory of London? My first memory of London is coming up with my dad to Clapham Junction, and he had a shop in Battersea. So mainly Clapham Junction area.
- What do you miss when you're away from London? Who goes away? There’s a good story by one of the people I’ve just painted, G.K. Chesterton, it’s called Riddle of The Ivy. So he goes away to Frankfort to discover Battersea, he says to his friend “I’m going away to discover Battersea”. His friend says “Well you are in Battersea, you don’t need to discover it”. He says “Yeah but when I come back I see it afresh”. So when I go away I see it afresh when I come back.
- What's your favourite neighbourhood? Battersea Park.
- What's your favourite building? Battersea Power Station, obviously.
- What's your ideal night out in London? I would like to go to the iMax at Waterloo, to see Mission: Impossible. 3D, of course, 3D.
- What's your most hated building? I don’t particularly like the National Theatre, or the Haywood Gallery. I don’t like the concrete buildings.
- What's the best view in London? From my house, to Battersea Power Station.
- What's your favourite open space? Battersea Park.
- What's the most interesting shop? The most interesting shop is Arding and Hobbs, Clapham Junction.
- What's your favourite place to hang out? Hang out? Like young people do? I hang out in the Duchess Pub, opposite Battersea Power Station of course!
- How would you like to spend your ideal day off in London? Oh every day’s a day off from work, I’m 71, I don’t have to work! So my favourite thing is… I like going to the British Wetland Centre, in Barnes. Named after me you know.
- Where would you take someone visiting from out of town? I do do that sometimes, so you know, I would take them to the Tate Gallery, or the National Gallery, or both. Or the V&A, all three. In fact I had a day out once with a friend, we went to Tate Modern, we went to the National Gallery, the Serpentine Gallery. Every gallery I could find. Galleries. I’ve got one purpose in life.
- What's the worst journey you've had to make in London? Just going out of London, up the Edgeware Road. I was in a traffic jam for three hours, then when I got to the head of the traffic jam there was one man leaning on a shovel, in a hole. And he was surrounded by cones, he’d made the road narrow, and he was never going to finish his job. So that traffic jam’s probably still there.
- What's your personal London landmark? Obvious isn’t it? Battersea Power Station
- Who's your favourite fictional Londoner? Sherlock Holmes.
- What's your favourite London film, book or documentary? "The Optimist of Nine Elms", cause I am The Optimist of Nine Elms.
- For you, who is the ultimate Londoner? Ken Livingstone.