Street Art: Kingston upon Thames

Colour Your Senses in Kingston (upon Thames) was designed to welcome people safely back into the city after all the covid restrictions. The town centre has been dressed with colourful cross-street banners, bunting, floor stencils, floral displays and exhibition boards, providing a splash of vibrant colour.

Market trader whistling,
Musicians singing,
Oars swhooshing and
Ducks quacking.

It’s a busy city centre and no more so than on a Saturday afternoon so the daughter and I headed off along the riverside whilst the granddaughters went clothes shopping for the all important 18th birthday family meal that evening.

On our way back we came across some hoardings around an empty building plot behind the Bentall Centre that had been artistically and colourfully decorated. I included a few images of the hoardings in my Surrey round-up post, but there were more. I particularly liked this one.

I often wonder what an artist is thinking about when they create their paintings. Split personality? Torn apart? Gender confusion? Hanging by a thread? Who knows.

There can be no confusion about this one though. Swans as we know, mate for life, and the River Thames is well known for its swans. Possibly by Skyhigh.

My first impression of the one above was of penguins, but the one on the right is a woodpecker, not sure about the one on the left. It’s hard to track down these artists, but the A51 tag led me to Aspire who seems to paint animals and birds that are on the decline.

.EPOD His professional skillset (draftsman, fashion designer and illustrator) and the inspirations of his youth manifest vividly in his paintings and murals. Sultry figures draped in elegant materials. Mirrored vessels in otherworldly landscapes. Cigarettes hanging from kiss me lips.

281 bus rounding cape horn in a storm by Tom Pierce

Whatever you might think about graffiti or street art / murals and I confess that a lot are not to my taste, they do often brighten up what can be a dull and depressing area and being in a public space makes art accessible to all.

Yet Another Post Box

A few years ago I wrote my first post about post boxes – the ones you post letters in, not the mailboxes that belong to a house – and how many different ones there are. I am still searching for a Queen Victoria one, but think I have located a couple near me so I shall be heading off with my camera to track them down.

This one caught my eye due to the fact that someone had yarn-bombed it in support of the invasion of Ukraine which sadly is still happening.

Elizabeth II

There are over 800 different types of post boxes in the UK alone. Perhaps you have an unusual one to share? If you do then please post it and link to this one in the comments or via a pingback. I’d love to see it.

Just Back From… Surrey

Travelling from the far west of Cornwall means that you don’t reach another county for a good hour and a half. So we haven’t been very far over the last couple of years since the first lockdown. Last week though we headed east to celebrate a significant birthday – that of our second eldest granddaughter who turned 18. I was there at her birth, though only just made it as she was over her due date and I had to return home to begin my final term of teaching practice for my PGCE. Oh, how long ago that time seems.

The ‘Out of Order’ installation, which consists of twelve tumbling telephone boxes, has been in place on Kingston’s lovely Old London Road since it was first installed in 1989. The piece was created by David Mach, one of the UK’s most successful artists and a former lecturer at Sculpture School in Kingston.

Whilst in the south-east I managed to visit a few of my favourite places in the area (we lived on the Hampshire/Surrey/West Sussex border for seven years back in the 2000s) and enjoy a few walks with my daughter along the River Thames. As usual the weather there was several degrees warmer than it ever is in Cornwall, the sun shone, the sky was blue, there was chocolate cake and I did a lot of walking!

River Thames Walks

I was surprised at how countrified the towpath along the river can be once you are away from the suburbs. We strolled towards Sunbury from Hurst Park / Meadows in Moseley where the river was busy with paddleboarders, kayakers and canoeists plus the inevitable rowers, with plenty of swans, ducks and geese.

Multimillion £ houses along the River Thames in Hampton.

On the towpath towards Ham from Kingston it was much busier and noisier due to the low-flying aircraft overhead. But once again after leaving the delightful Canbury Park towards Teddington Lock it feels like you are almost in the country. Stunning houses along the river front once again. And so much blossom!

Houses along the Thames in Teddington

RHS Wisley Gardens

Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science

The flagship gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society are at Wisley in Surrey, very close to the M25 motorway Junction 10 with the A3. It has been transformed since my last visit in 2015 and is extremely busy, especially when events like an Easter Egg hunt is on. The main changes are at the Welcome entrance and at Hilltop which is where the model gardens and allotments used to be. Now it is a centre for gardening science with a library and three new gardens surrounding it. There is a permanent exhibition that demonstrates the benefits of gardens for wellbeing and gives tips for creating garden spaces that improve the natural environment in a changing climate and a series of free talks, demonstrations and interactive sessions are offered daily.

Naturally I cannot resist photographing the beautiful plants and flowers, but it was lovely to see a variety of sculptures around the garden, including this one in the Cottage Garden.

Diva by Mark Swan

Devil’s Punch Bowl

The Old A3 road around the Devil’s Punch Bowl at Hindhead

Once upon a time I used to drive along the old A3 all the time as we lived close by to Hindhead. We lived there in fact the entire 5 years it took for the A3 tunnel to be built and suffered the long delays caused by the roadworks. However now it has been dug up and a lovely all-weather circular path (2.5 miles) made along the former road joins the Devil’s Punch Bowl to the Hindhead Common where the Celtic Cross and the Sailor’s Stone can be found. I stood looking at the sweep of the track trying to work out my bearings, but it was very confusing. Chatting to a chap coming the other way, who also used to drive along this road we both agreed that it all looked very different.

Watts Chapel

On the way to the Devil’s Punch Bowl I stopped off at Watts Chapel. I have posted about this delight before (click on the link), but I had missed one of the friezes (Owl) around the chapel so I wanted to go back and find it.

The outside of the building is made up of four large friezes which represent in turn Hope, Truth, Love and Light. Symbolic birds are represented by the peacock (Hope), the owl (Truth), the pelican (Love) and the eagle (Light). Surrounding these are attendant spirits depicted as angel heads holding symbolic discs.
Watts Cemetery Chapel – Designed and decorated by Mary Seton Watts this example of Art Nouveau was completed in 1904.

The light wasn’t much better than on my previous visit, but at least it wasn’t raining. I took very similar photos as before, but here are a few more details I captured this time round.

Kingston Street Art

Coming back into Kingston we found some hoardings that had been creatively covered with street art.

Of course I cannot finish this post without showing you the marvellous cake created by the 18 year old for her birthday, it tasted as good as it looks.

18th birthday cake

The Sailor’s Stone

A comment by Becky of It Caught My Eye in Portugal and The Life of B on my post about the Eassie headstones mentioned an unusual stone hidden on the Hindhead Commons. I say hidden, because when I used to explore this area before the Hindhead tunnel was completed in 2011 (yes just as we were about to move to Shropshire) it was not easy to find. Nowadays I believe there is a track / walk signposted from the car park at the Devil’s Punchbowl. The stone itself is quite unremarkable, but the story behind it is not.

This stone commemorates the events of 24 September 1786 when an unknown sailor travelling on the old Portsmouth Road was murdered by three men.

The sailor had befriended the men  in the Red Lion Inn at nearby Thursley when they appeared to have no money to buy food or drink. He paid for ale with a golden guinea which he had received after his last sea trip.

After leaving the inn the three men set about him and robbed him of his money, slitting his throat and leaving him to die. The men, Edward Lonegon, Michael Casey and James Marshall were arrested at the Sun Inn, Rake in neighbouring Hampshire several hours later as they were trying to sell his clothes. They were brought to Haslemere on a longcart to be questioned by the JP, the Rev James Fielding (allegedly a Highwayman himself) and later tried at Kingston Assizes 6 months later and sentenced to death.

The sailor was buried in Thursley churchyard with a much more impressive headstone.

The gibbet where the three men were hanged in chains was set up on the hill where the Celtic cross now stands. The bodies remained there for three years until brought down by a storm. A hideous reminder of the crime and the punishment.

Gibbet Hill is the second highest point in Surrey and provides extensive views over the countryside.

(The Sailor’s Stone is found on Hindhead Common, just off the old A3 road near the Devil’s Punchbowl Surrey and information has been taken from the plaque next to the stone)