Now you see it, now you don’t … ephemeral images in London

A few weeks ago I photographed some graffiti I’d seen in Central London.  A colourful, menacing clown had been introduced onto a wall featuring an advertising image of professional cyclists. A couple of days later I found myself in the same street with my husband, a keen cyclist.  I wanted to show him that juxtaposition but discovered it was no longer there.  The clown had been removed and the wall had been returned to it’s cyclist-only imagery. This is the photograph:

I had  a similar experience a week later when I saw some powerful street art in Regent Street;  a striking image of a seemingly homeless Theresa May begging on the street; the play on words of the painted sign to her side saying help me I’m hopeless.  A couple of days later the whole thing had been crudely painted over with white brushstrokes:

I’ve just started reading The Handmaid’s Tale after watching the brilliant TV series. The book has a new preface by its author Margaret Atwood; I highlighted the following sentence, where Atwood is talking about civil liberties, freedom of expression and recording and chronicling what is happening and being experienced : Will their messages be suppressed and hidden? Will they be found, centuries later, in an old house, behind a wall?

It resonated with me and also brought to mind an image I’d taken in the summer which no longer exists to the naked eye:

A secret wall painting of a primitive figure, the face created around a hole in the wall; the gaping mouth possibly a drain pipe. Although this is probably a builder’s joke in this construction site in Kentish Town, there was something archaic about this crude wall painting. The wall and its painting have now been boarded over; I know it still exists but will the occupants ever discover the hidden open-mouthed human, who has been witnessed yet can no longer be seen behind the fresh plasterboard?

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