Posts Tagged ‘ladbroke grove’

October 17th, 2012


1986: Hate, Ink 27, Pain 73 (Foam) and Cazbee. West London Pioneers. Laid up at Edgware Road

In 1982 I took a subway journey in New York City. My mother’s hand closed tightly on mine, her step quickened. She was scared. Then there were the trains. Covered inside and outside, as if by one mysterious superhuman hand. The writing obeyed no rule or pattern I had ever encountered. I asked her why, but my voice was lost in her fear and the thunder and rumble of the system.

1987: Flo 2 and Snatch on the ledge at Royal Oak

I grew up in Ladbroke Grove, the birthplace of graffiti in the UK. The Westway provided unlimited concrete canvass. The first piece in London was painted there, by Futura 2000, who made a rap track with locals The Clash. Henry Chalfant took the iconic picture of the nascent London graffiti scene yards away on the Westbourne Park footbridge.


1987: Crame (Just 12, WozDoz, Demo, Cade) at Latimer Road

1988: Cazman by Cazbee at Westbourne Park

I was incompetent with paint and pens, slow to learn and bad at art. So I took photos. Graffiti was all around me, and growing in quality and quantity. My daily return journey to school offered me the opportunity to learn about everyone who was writing their names, how old they were, where they came from. The trains were a bulletin board; every journey, an adventure of discovery.


1989: Westward Ho! Push from East London rolls out of Ladbroke Grove

1989: Storm by Prime at Edgware Road

For those who participated, the inner stains remain indelible. Middle-aged men with children and jobs use their graffiti names on Facebook. Some moved on, some stayed involved. Some even manufacture and market their own paint, which they sell in their own shops. Using such paint, a new generation films itself in action, and posts the results to the internet. The act was once carried out in secrecy, with only the work remaining to be seen. Today graffiti is removed so quickly, all that remains is the act itself.

In London is a place that has the mysterious name of Meanwhile 2. It is a concrete ditch and skatepark that has been skated by Londoners and visitors since it was created at the end of the 1970s. Tucked away under the  underbelly of an overhead motorway and looking over a central railway link into West London, this graffiti strewn playground is a far cry from the sanitised modern pay-to-skate Playstation park up the road.

During the 1980s Meanwhile 2 was where indie skate heads and inner city urban youth confraternised and fought under the rumble of the traffic overhead and the whistle and roar of the trains alongside. Pioneer west London graffiti writers such as Cazbee and Foam passed by, while the authors of fanzines such as Skate Muties from the 5th Dimension (from Bristol) and members of pioneer UK skate band The Stupids from Ipswich ate chips and fell off their boards.

In the middle of all this a UK based American called Steve Wiltshire put on competitions called The Smell of Death, events that united the various tribes under the banner of skateboarding, beer and a punk soundtrack that was not to everyone’s taste. In September 2009 a photograph of a Smell of Death competition from 1986, covering an entire pillar of the Westway,  mysteriously appeared at Meanwhile 2.

October 2009:

January 2010:

May 2010:

[Original photo: Michael J Wilson]