LGBTQ+ Mural, Eagle London, SE11

The mural project was made possible through a generous community grant from Lambeth Council, demonstrating the local government’s commitment to supporting and celebrating the rich cultural fabric of Vauxhall. The mural not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of the area but also serves as a powerful visual testament to the values of acceptance and unity that Eagle London stands for.

Artwork interpretation

“The motivation behind the artwork was to shine a light on the lesser known significance the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens holds in queer history and unify it with the importance Eagle London holds within the LGBTQ+ community today.

Historically, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens’ permissive atmosphere, large crowds, and events like masquerades, created a rare space where people could express themselves more freely, providing opportunities for queer encounters and community in an otherwise repressive Victorian society.

I wanted to take the traditional scene depicted in history and bring the queer elements forward into the light having them take centre stage in celebration.

To create this, the artwork opens with the classic nocturnal garden setting of the Pleasure Gardens’ bandstand, adorned with glowing lights and flags surrounded by trees. However in this contemporary version, the bandstand is fashioned from steel trusses, the inimitable drag icon Divine is outrageously entertaining crowds on one stage, while a DJ performs on the other above a giant disco ball that illuminates a euphoric 21st century dancing crowd below. All commonplace at Eagle London.

Nodding to the Pleasure Gardens’ past, a hot air balloon hangs above the crowd between the ‘stages’ at sunset. World-famous balloonist Charles Green would wow crowds in the gardens by ascending animals into the air as part of the nightly entertainment in the early 1800’s – the largest animal that was part of his show was a hippo.

The hot air balloon became synonymous with Vauxhall in 1836. Today, great nightlife and the LGBTQ+ community is synonymous with Vauxhall – the two flags flying high and proud above the stage are a declaration to this.

Hidden within the party crowd are silhouettes of famous 80s musicians – George Michael, Janet Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Sade and Grace Jones. This is inspired by ‘Athena’ the 80‘s inspired club night that takes place on the first Saturday of every month.

To the middle right of the artwork, nestled in the tree is a single pink/purple candle – it burns as a reminder and symbol of hope and light – for progress, justice, equality, peace and sanctuary to the LGBTQ+ community. Tying the image together and weaving from the balloon at the top, through the trees to the bottom is the end of the banner that reads “Peace, Love & Dancing”.

This is a testament to the sense of community, friendship, support, love and fun, found and celebrated at Eagle London and how dancing can bring us all together.”

“This has been such a wonderful project to have been part of. To have the opportunity to create artwork from the heart that embodies so much joy and togetherness has felt exhilarating and daunting. Having it live on the side of Eagle London is just perfect. I couldn’t imagine it anywhere else. There’s so much joy and commitment and community in there. Working alongside Mark and Lee and the team from Eagle London has been a dream for myself and my amazing team of mural artists, who I couldn’t have installed this without – it’s really been a team event”