An Abandoned House (Temporary Gallery) Covered in Street Art

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Griff from Street Art London to check out a secret street art project (which I’ve been holding out on blogging about until now!). The photos in this post are from my visit, which was a few weeks ago and I’m sure it has changed and developed in an incredible way by now!


After two hours on a bus that crawled over the bridge toward Vauxhall Station, three lines merging into one, and eventually onward to South East London, I arrived in an area of London almost completely unfamiliar to me: Dulwich.


I jumped off the bus and walked up to an abandoned house at 265 Lordship Lane, pressed the buzzer. The door was opened by a man covered in paint. He works in the building trade and was lending a hand with some painting. The walls were half red. Behind him, someone else walked in and I introduced myself. Turned out I was standing face to face with the fabulous Cityzen Kane! Also covered in paint, he happily agreed to show me around.



We were in a seven bedroom Victorian house that the council was ready to knock down and build new flats in its place. It was temporarily rescued by Griff along with Ingrid Beazley of the Dulwich Picture Gallery.


This is an unlikely collaboration but a successful one. Griff works with a lot of street artists and is very well connected to some great talent. Ingrid also works with talented artists, but at the other end of the spectrum – the more traditional type of creatives.


Together they have masterminded “Baroque The Streets” a festival featuring an outdoor gallery of large scale public murals inspired by works held by Dulwich Picture Gallery which is England’s oldest public gallery. The house on Lordship Lane that I was visiting is a part of this, but will then be knocked down as originally planned after the festival. But imagine being an artist with an entire house at your disposal!


Over the past month or so, quite a few of the artists participating in the festival have taken up residence in the house on Lordship Lane and have been given the entire fabric of this huge house to paint, each one in a room of their own and then more scattered throughout.


I was there several weeks ago so it was all a work in progress. The place was colourful, smelled of paint, spray paint bottles piled up in corners.


Cement structures that Cityzen Kane was working on were settled in the first room. He let me pick one up. They weigh a ton and he was just finishing up a new one that would take four people to lift it! He is also using the back garden area as a work space.



Looking up, a blue-green Christian Nagel mushroom is perched on the corner of the roof.


Mushrooms were everywhere.


There were piles of half constructed mushrooms in a room and a giant balloon in the middle that serves as a mould for the caps.



In another room, the walls completely covered in Christiaan Nagel’s foam.



And of course there were more mushrooms there already completed.


From the top floor, you could look out onto the roof and see another.


There was a room blocked off that was covered in tiny Pablo Delgado pasteups. Outside of the room, there was a bird and a small hole in the door.


Through the hole? Another bird and a window. I couldn’t aim the camera any other way but straight so I’ll leave the rest of it a secret.


There’s a surprise huge one at the foot of the steps.


There are other tiny ones hidden around the house like the one below in a door frame.


There’s more Pablo Delgado pieces along the bottoms of the walls – where you would initially expect to find them.


There were others perched on ledges a bit higher up.


Some of the artists participating in the festival (either murals or decorating the house or both) include REKA, My Dog Sighs, Christiaan Nagel, Pablo Delgado, Hitnes, Kid Acne, Ben Wilson, Liqen, Conor Harrington, ROA, Dscreet, Thierry Noir, Mad C, RUN, Malabrocca, Phlegm, Agent Provocateur, Remi Rough and System and The Rolling People.


There’s also a room painted completely black where films can be shown.


The RUN room was looking pretty fabulous.



The Rolling People had made good progress on theirs as well.



They even covered the window.


Cityzen Kane and I went back outside to survey his work. His wife and son showed up to see the house. I love being able to put faces and names and families to pieces of street art.


I won’t tell you his real name, but Cityzen Kane’s wife says his work is all over their house as well, which you could just picture. Stories like that really bring street art to life and show the human side of it and the pure talent of these artists. He’s agreed to do an interview with me for LLO toward the end of the Summer so I am very much looking forward to that!


But back to the house.


There were some random bits and piece around, scribbles on the walls.


If you have the time, head down to Dulwich to check it out. It won’t be around for long as it’s still tagged for demolition. It will be viewable for one weekend only – this coming weekend!


I unfortunately won’t make it to the event (I will be having a fabulous girly weekend in Amsterdam!) so take photos for me of the finished house if you do!


Details on the Facebook event page:


While you’re down there, here’s the rest of the festival events:


Mural sites are located all around Dulwich.

Baroque the Streets: Festival Show
265 Lordship Lane, SE22
Opening celebration of artworks by street artists involved in the Baroque the Streets with works for sale. 17 May, 8-10PM.

Starts at 17 Grove Vale, SE22 –> Dulwich Picture Gallery, SE21, 19 May, 2PM

Street Art Masterclass
Dog Kennel Hill Adventure Playground, 18 May, 1PM and 3PM


More about the festival from Street Art London here:

Listen to a Londoner: Steve Slack

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email

Steve Slack, 30

Steve is a writer and researcher working in the cultural heritage sector. He writes audioguides and museum interpretation and is currently writing a book about what happiness means to us in a modern context.
He blogs at

LLO: Tell us a bit about The Happiness Project you’re working on at the moment.
Happiness is an enormous subject. It’s vast. The more I learn about it, the more questions I have. Down the ages, the great and the good have tried to get to grips with happiness. What is it? How we define it? Thinkers and writers have produced millions of pages on this subject – so much so that I wonder if it’s worth even trying to answer such a huge question that seeks to define happiness in broad terms. Instead, I’m interested in what makes us happy as individuals. So, I started looking at some historical characters and tried to find out what they said about happiness – Aristotle, Henry VIII, Churchill. I found that an understanding of happiness is contextual – to truly appreciate what makes someone happy, one has to understand the world they live in. So one aspect of this project is looking back at some figures from history who’ve had something interesting to say about happiness. These are juxtaposed with the modern section, which involves me going and interviewing lots of people from different walks of life today, asking them what happiness means to them and what makes them happy. The idea is to build up a picture of what happiness might mean to us in a modern context [].

LLO: How do you choose who to interview for your project and what has the response been like so far?
SS: I’ve been interviewing people who have something interesting to say. To be fair, every single person has a unique perspective on happiness – there are no two answers the same. But for this project I’m trying to find people who have a unique contribution. I’ve had to rein it in somewhat, so I’m now looking for people who are living in the UK today. I’ve spoken with a Holocaust survivor, a homeless guy, Woman Farmer of the Year, a hip-hop MC, a psychiatrist, a Buddhist writer, a blind extreme sport enthusiast and more. People are really happy to put their minds to my questions and to talk. After I’ve interviewed them I write up their answers and edit it into a post for the website [].

LLO: Any thoughts on the general state of happiness among Londoners? What could we do to be a bit more cheerful?
Londoners love to have a grumble about the city. It’s expensive, it’s dirty, the infrastructure is ageing and the people are rude. But that’s only one perspective. I’ve lived in London for 12 years and I find that while some of that is true, London is still the greatest city in the world in terms of inspiration and creativity. There’s so much to do here, you can never complain of being bored. From bars and clubs, shopping, some of the best food in the world to an unrivalled cultural scene. I’ve worked in the museum sector for about a decade and I find there’s so much here to keep me going.

There’s a great blog called the Happiness Project London [] which celebrates all of these things and more. It’s a celebration of all the wonderful things to do here and it’s great way to make sure we don’t take London for granted.

LLO: Is there a place you’ve found in London that always seems to make you happy?
I have a favourite picture in the National Gallery that always makes me happy. It’s a picture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza by Honoré-Victorin Daumier  [] – I don’t know what it is about the painting, but it does something very strange to me. I can stand in front of it for ages and never get bored; I’m just content and happy. I find the combination of colours very relaxing and pleasing and the overlapping lines of the picture never cease to interest me. The rest of the world seems to disappear whenever I’m in the room with it. If I’ve got five minutes spare and I’m near the Gallery, I’ll pop in and have a quick look. My partner recently bought me a framed print of the picture. That made me enormously grateful that someone had gone to the trouble to think about what makes me happy.

LLO: Working in the museum/heritage sector, which London museum is your favourite and can you recommend a good one that’s a bit quirky or out of the ordinary?
SS: The Geffrye Museum [] in Hoxton is a real treat. It’s the museum of English domestic interiors. As well as some great displays it also has a charming garden and a great cafe. On the other side of the city I love the calm tranquillity of Dulwich Picture Gallery []. It’s a hidden gem in London, but it doesn’t deserve to be. The building and gardens are beautiful and the collection – although somewhat obscure – is a time capsule of late 18th-century art collecting. Less than a mile away, but very different in tone, is the fabulous Horniman Museum [] with its wide-ranging collection of musical instruments, African objects and natural history.

LLO: Give us a London fact you’ve learned while working that most people probably don’t know, but might put a smile on their face when they hear it.
SS: There’s a stuffed walrus [] in the Horniman Museum’s natural history collection. When the skin was sent to the UK from Canada in 1870 the taxidermist assigned to stuff it had never seen a live walrus. He stuffed it full of filling, like he’d stuff a horse or a dog, until it was completely full. But, of course, walruses are supposed to have rolls of blubber to keep them warm. You can still see the lines in his side where his flab should be, but unfortunately he’s far too big. It’d be a nightmare to undo the work, so he’s left there, looking rather uncomfortable. He’s supposed to be fat, but not that fat!

LLO: Tell us about the most fascinating Londoner you’ve interviewed in your life, either through museum work or your personal projects.
SS:I wrote the audio guide for an exhibition at Lambeth Palace Library recently and got to interview the Archbishop of Canterbury for the introduction. He’s a real pro when it comes to the media – he spoke directly with confidence and ease. And he did it word perfect, in one take. I guess fluent speaking goes with the job! From his study we could see the amazing gardens of Lambeth Palace. Apparently it’s the second largest private garden in London, next to Buckingham Palace.

LLO: Where’s your favourite place to go to unwind over dinner or drinks?
I love water, so I’m often to be found near the river. But in the summer it can get quite manic, so I’ll head back towards my home in south London. Camberwell and Peckham are having are real renaissance right now. There are loads of great bars and restaurants in which to eat, drink and just hang out. My back garden also has a little suntrap, so I can sometimes be found there on a summer evening with a glass of wine, watching the planes heading into Heathrow.

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
SS: I’d always assumed that if you wanted good curry in London you should head to Brick Lane. But I’d never thought of Drummond Street (near Euston Station) until a friend took me there. It’s great row of restaurants if you like south Indian food.

There’s also a great pop-up bar on top floor of a multi-storey car park in Peckham called Frank’s Cafe and Campari Bar []. It’s a unique blend of sculpture, food and drinks in the open air, with a privileged view of the London skyline.

LLO: What’s the best part about living in your postcode?
SS: Camberwell gets a bad reputation sometimes, but I think it’s a fabulous place to live. It’s relaxed and artsy and has loads of places to get coffee, food, free wi-fi and evening drinks. It’s such a creative area, there’s something for everyone and for every mood. I maintain that the best tapas in London is at Angels and Gypsies [] at the Church Street Hotel. Camberwell Arts Week [] each June is a real treat – this year we sat on the roof of the church hall and watched movies projected onto the wall at night!

Thanks Steve!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.