Street Art at the Wheelbarrow

Friday, February 20th 2015

Freya is becoming very picky about her food. She has grown tired of the brand that she has happily eaten so far and I am always looking around for other makes to find something she will like. This morning I caught a bus to Camden Town hoping to find something in Palmers Pet Store, an establishment I have visited on many occasions before.

Stormy clouds over Camden Town
Stormy clouds over Camden Town

The bus carried us up Camden High Street and stopped at traffic lights. On the left I saw an alley and noticed that the walls were covered with paintings. A few yards further on, the bus halted at a bus stop and I thought about getting off and taking a look at the art but instead went on to do my shopping.

The Wheelbarrow
The Wheelbarrow
Click for Google Map

Having done that, I decided to go back and find the art, after all. The above map (click for a Google Map of the area) shows where it is, in an alleyway off Camden High Street, opposite Plender Street. I looked for the name of the alley but found it had been painted out.

Painted out
Painted out

While street name panels in London are usually in the form of embossed metal plates, one does come across quite a few that are painted. It may be that the Council is in the process of repainting the name of this alley but in the meantime, visitors like me don’t know what it is called. I notice from the map that it is possibly a continuation of Miller Street which is joined to it by an even narrower passage. In the meantime, the easiest way to locate it is to say that it is beside a pub called the Wheelbarrow. However, this establishment, as Google notes, is closed and if and when it reopens, the name may change.

One Love

Right at the beginning of the passageway and painted on the pub wall is this lively rendition of a parakeet by artist One Love. Parakeets were exotic birds imported as pets but some escaped and the species is now well established in the UK. They gather in flocks in trees in the evening merrily chattering away but not everyone is happy about their presence, especially in such numbers. This one is mischievously performing gymnastics on a branch that is also a paintbrush.

Continuing along the wall from left to right is a series of paintings. The alley is too narrow to include them in a single photo and I don’t think the panorama function, with its distortion, would give a good rendition, so I will show it in sections.

Wheelbarrow painting

Wheelbarrow painting

Wheelbarrow painting

Wheelbarrow painting

The black and white painting is by One Six One aka Christian Smith and you will find more examples of his work on his Global Street Art page and on his Facebook. (See Update below.)

Unfortunately, I do not know who the author of the other, colourful painting is. There is some lettering at lower left and what might be the signature “DS”, but while there is a street artist who signs himself ‘DS’, his style seem to be very different (and so is the signature). Nor can I find any meaning for the letters ‘KLO’. If any one knows, please tell, and I will add a note.


On the opposite wall is this intriguing head and shoulders view (please click to see a larger version). Its size makes it difficult to photograph. I tried a panorama shot but wasn’t happy with the result. Note how the painting takes the windows in its stride.

Head (detail)

This is a detail of the same painting. This art work is signed at bottom left by Paola Delfín who is from Mexico. Here are her Global Street Art page and her page on Pinterest.

The final painting is a realistic-style full face portrait in mono.

Hole in the head portrait

I have included some context in this picture because I think the way the portrait fits its surroundings is important to the impression it gives. I call it the “Hole in the head portrait” because there seems to be a black hole in the middle of the forehead, though there is no indication as to its significance. The dramatic piece of work is signed top left by Pang. This artist paints in a variety of styles as can be seen from his Facebook and Instagram entries.

I was glad that I did indeed make this diversion to see these paintings and I don’t doubt that when next I return to this spot, there will be an entirely new collection awaiting discovery.

Update March 1st 2015

I have been experimenting with softwares that perform “panorama photo stitching”, that is, combine overlapping photos of a scene into a single image. I used one called Autostitch to combine four pictures of the wall of the Wheelbarrow and the result appears below.

Wheelbarrow wall

There is some distortion but I think this is caused by inequalities in the perspective in the different photos. On the whole, I think the result gives a good impression of the wall as a whole.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger,, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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6 Responses to Street Art at the Wheelbarrow

  1. WOL says:

    I notice from SixOneSix’s website that he seems to favor this motif that looks to me like the shield of an African warrior. It is a striking design. I believe I prefer the black and white versions as they have a stronger rhythm to them. I like the parakeet. I always think of the old joke my aunt told me of the woman in the pet store who was offered a parakeet. Her reply: “No, I just want the one.” I find it interesting that parakeets, which are native to Australia, have found habitat in Britain that is suitable enough to establish a wild population. That there is such a large “immigrant” population, argues that they must find it homely.
    You seem to have become quite the connoisseur of street art. I enjoy seeing your discoveries, especially in view of the ephemeral nature of the medium. In a way, you are helping to preserve and perpetuate pieces of art that have a limited life in the wild.

    It irks me when people go on about “capital” Fine Art, and this and that movement and start tossing about names and dates in a snobby sort of way and start dictating what is and isn’t Art. To me, the only important criteria about any art, or any work of art is whether you like it or not. The way to study art, I think, is piece by piece. One particular work draws you in and holds your interest, and leads you to more of the work of that particular artist. I guess that lumps me in with the “I don’t know much about Art, but I know what I like.” crowd. To me, the whole point about art is the engagement of the viewer with the work. Never mind Schools and Movements, and all that categorical stuff. An artist should create the art they need to create, put it out there for people to interact with, and people should appreciate/acquire the art that engages them.

    • SilverTiger says:

      161 does seem to specialize in a theme which then spreads in an organic way – like lichen – across a surface. Different people will see different images in it.

      The ephemeral nature of street art is certainly one of its main characteristics and nearly every painting has a finite life. It is not possible to catalogue them all before they disappear under new ones. This is probably why many of the artists photograph their own works and publish the photos on sites such as Instagram.

      Art is subject to snobbery like so many other topics. I am definitely a member of the “I know what I like” club and don’t give a toss for what the “experts” tell me is “good”. If I like it, it’s “good”.

      With regard to exotic birds, other species have also escaped into the wild, such as budgerigars, but no others have been so successful as parakeets. These are now to all intents and purposes a native species.

  2. What wonderful street art. That’s one thing I miss living out from the city.

  3. Shannon says:

    Excellent decision to go back and examine the art. I’d love to see things like this out and about in my neighbourhood, or nearby, but alas, it seems that the only “art” that sticks on our urban walls is the occasional gang-related tag, or barely legible profanities.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Street art on the scale that it is developing here does seem to be a big-city phenomenon but it is spreading and I think more artists are joining the ranks, art may appear on a wall near you at any time.

      Street art is usually accompanied, and sometimes over-painted, by lesser forms of graffiti, including gang tags. Both communities are using the same channel for their different communications.

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