I love London. I grew up there and while I’ve now lived half my life outside of the city it still feels like my spiritual home.
One of the things I love most about London is how diverse it is. It’s one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world – the proverbial melting pot of cultures, religions and outlooks. Old meets new, East meets West (and all points on the compass in between) and there is something to suit all tastes, from the most conservative to the most adventurous.
That’s important to me as one-half of a Malaysian/English-Australian couple, with kids to whom having a foot in both camps is second nature to them. It’s one of the reasons I’m dismayed by the increase in nationalistic, isolationist ideologies we are seeing all over the world.
Anyhow, I digress.
Diversity. You can find pretty much everything in London. Not so much 50 Shades of Grey as 50,000 Colours of the Rainbow. There is so much about London that is familiar to me and yet there is always something new and surprising around every corner if you are just willing to look.
I’m at BritMums’ BML conference this weekend, which is being held at County Hall in Westminster. On my way to the venue yesterday morning, I walked under a railway bridge to be greeted with the most dazzling array of street art. Every inch of both walls and the arched ceiling was covered with work like you see in this photo.
In days gone by, people talked about graffiti in disparaging terms. It was an eyesore, it was criminal damage, all manner of negativity. Okay, in some cases that’s true. But I much prefer the term ‘street art’ because that’s what it is: art. It’s vibrant, it brings colour to the darkest and dingiest of locations and it’s part of our urban landscape. To me it’s much less of an eyesore than much of the Brutalist architecture that makes up much of the South Bank.
So, yes, I liked this very much. It’s only a small thing but it’s still a part of what gives London its unique character, as much as more eye-catching structures such as the London Eye – which I’m looking at as I type this – or the Shard. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder indeed.