The memory of the poet William Blake can be found, maybe slightly oddly underneath the railway arches in Waterloo

A collection of large mosaics were installed in the railway arches at Centaur Street, which are more usually filled with rubbish and pigeon poo, over a period of 7 years by Southbank Mosaics with Future’s Theatre and Southbank Sinfonia supported by Heritage Lottery.

The location is surprisingly apt though, as William Blake lived nearby from 1890-1800 in the a decade that is often thought to be his most productive years. It’s when he started work on Jerusalem, which is today far better known for the Hymn than the original book — even though in fact, the hymn Jerusalem uses text from one of Blake’s other books. The title of the book and the Hymn are coincidental.

But, 200 years after he moved here, a project was set up to decorate the railway arches in his memory, and now a decade or so later, most of them are still there, rather dusty now, seemingly slightly forgotten, but that’s part of their appeal.

They are not art that shouts or demands attention in a public space. Hidden down inside passages that few choose to walk through, it’s happy to simply be spied out of the corner of eyes of people hurrying through the arches to cleaner places.

You are required to seek out the art down here in its dark lair.

Droplets of colour in the grime and sparkle momentarily in car headlamps and the occasional glint of light from the ends.

Art amongst the pigeon poo.

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2 comments
  1. David Peet says:

    The Eastern end of this viaduct carried the line of the Necropolis Railway from its terminus on Waterloo Bridge Road to Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey

  2. JP says:

    Arrgh you’ve taken me right back to school!
    No I didn’t remember this snippet on passing through the final ticket gate, I had to look it up but apposite it be:

    ‘I am going to that country which I have all my life wished to see.’
    William Blake.

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