The Wall

Some of you may know that I’ve been hunting street art for many years.  Mostly I find these various size works in and around the Shoreditch area in East London or The Leake Street Tunnel near Waterloo station.  Whenever I travel abroad I always try and find the local street art district with some amazing and well known artists’ work being visible in more than one country it’s always a nice surprise to spot a tag or style from an artist you’ve seen before. My Instagram page has been running since May 2020 and has organically grown to just over 1000 followers.  This is just the tip of the iceberg of course, with the fandom and movement having at least 100 times that in street art fans in the UK and with some Instagram followers having well over 15,000 followers.  I’m not shallow enough to worry about the followers that I get that much but it’s nice that people want to see my photography and my street art hunting efforts.  That for me is the real enjoyment of street art hunting, the not knowing what you’ll find next and with most pieces changing every week, it’s an exciting and constantly evolving outdoor gallery and I also often get a good 15k worth of steps out of each hunt whilst wandering around the streets of EC1, so it’s good for my health too.

Street Art - March 2021

A couple of days ago I was asked if I’d like to see some street art created by Sonia Boyce to cover the wall protecting the new Crossrail line that runs from Abbey Wood and though North Woolwich, Silvertown and Custom House.  This would be the biggest mural in Europe covering an area over 2km long.  This should be interesting to see but  I would always be a bit hesitant however about a corporation getting involved in an artwork project as the amount of bureaucracy and committee meetings often results in something very bland and disappointing. 

Crossrail Art - Sonia Boyce
Crossrail mural
Crossrail Art - Sonia Boyce

The Crossrail version of the Berlin wall certainly needs something to brighten up the area and I’m surprised that street artists or enthusiastic youths with spray cans and no idea haven’t already had a go at it with “Bozzo Woz Ere” but it seems mostly unmolested if just a dirty white wall. The pre-printed panels that are going up ready for the summer 2021 launch are pretty much as I would expect. Mostly a safe hospital style design of a black and white cityscape with flowers along the bottom. The panels are dotted with quotes from local residents and are mostly uninspiring.  One quote did stand out though that I’m stunned actually went through the due diligence and creative process.  The offending element was highlighting the crime and murders in the area. This will do wonders for the house prices I’m sure.

The quote read, 

I love this area North Woolwich. 

I’m glad I was brought up here, it’s like a village. It has a hairdresser, a corner shop, a post office, a library, three parks, a bakery and a pharmacy. 

What else?

There’s the Police Station, there’s a Chinese takeaway.

It has everything all in one small area and everyone knows everyone.

The only negative thing is the crime and the murders, which has been increasing.

This is unfortunate, but other than that everything else is fine.

Also there’s a little beach and you can take a ferry ride.

It’s all so close.

Like a village.’

Crossrail Art - Sonia Boyce
Great place, apart from the crime and murders!

How on earth did that ever get approved? Having seen this I decided to Tweet about it on the @Moliblog Twitter page showing my shock and disappointment at the way Crossrail and the artist can think this a great way to promote the area? 

Moliblog Twitter

Given the reputed £1m+ price tag, I can tell you that local community groups could really use that money post Covid more than hearing that they live in a crime and murder zone. It’s especially insensitive as less than 5 minutes walk away, a shrine is still in place to a young man that was the victim of knife crime. You could argue that the quote was honest and a temporary piece of commentary it would be challenging and inspire change, however as a permanent wall covering it falls short of any decency and consideration for local residents.


Crossrail didn’t reply to my tweet and why would they.  However, after ITV news and The Evening Standard quoted my tweet on their websites, the story did get some momentum and I’m glad to say that Newham Council put out a press release asking for the offending panel to be covered up or removed.  The Crossrail programme manager Jim Crawford appeared in ITV news that night and was frankly clueless about the whole project and claimed he would look into it. 

Crossrail Art - Sonia Boyce

I’m pleased to say that today the panel has been taken down and hopefully something more positive will replace it.  A quote maybe about the power of street art that can bring people together despite a big dividing wall though the borough. At least they don’t have guard towers and searchlights. Yet. 


To be or not to be Moli…

Writing a blog seems more time consuming than ever. I’ve been meaning to get things up to date and failing. This blog is a little out of sequence to the previous ones I’ve written but for my own sake, it needed to get it done.


Some time ago I was lucky enough to be the first member of the public to walk through a Crossrail tunnel. Not the whole thing but the section that passes under the Thames from Woolwich. The station at Woolwich was just a hole in the ground and I had to climb down a makeshift staircase that led down to the entrance of the tunnel.

Crossrail Big East West Breakthrough Thames Tunnel Walk

The track at this time had yet to be installed, so the tunnel was just a pathway under the river that was reminiscent of the Woolwich foot tunnel that was opened on 26th October 1912.

Woolwich Foot Tunnel 1912

Woolwich Foot Tunnel 1912

This simple act of being the first to walk through the tunnel wasn’t demanding but it did have the fascination that this rare opportunity would forever be part of my history and maybe that of London one day. The tunnel seemed fairly narrow considering that modern trains were going to be rushing through it in 2017. The temperature was much cooler than that of the surface and with various dips and turns the end couldn’t be seen until the last 200 meters.

Crossrail Big East West Breakthrough Thames Tunnel Walk

Crossrail Big East West Breakthrough Thames Tunnel Walk

The representatives from Crossrail were very informative about the challenges and details of the tunnels construction and were prepared to answer virtually any question put to them. The walk through didn’t take more than an hour and I loved it.



Well over a year ago I bought tickets to see Hamlet at the Barbican in London. As you may know from previous blogs I’m a fan of Sherlock and its star Benedict Cumberbatch. Ordering the tickets back in 2014 took skill and many computers to succeed. I understand that they sold out in a matter of minutes and I was lucky to get a pair. Roll on 2015, London and the media seemed gripped by Hamlet fever. The newspapers reviews after the first night were raving about the performance and screaming Cumber-Bitches travelling from all over the world just for a chance to see BC at the stage door with tickets to the play being a dream of course. The theatre was a reasonable size and I had stall tickets which gave me a really good view of the stage. However, things didn’t run smoothly. As the ushers left with their please don’t take pictures signs, the lights dropped and the curtain lifted. BC appeared alone on stage, looking through boxes with a single spotlight on him, ready to deliver the famous, To be or not to be soliloquy. Then the curtain closed again and the house lights came up. Well, I thought. Shakespeare didn’t write much did he?

A man appeared to explain about a technical hitch and that things would start again soon.


After 15 minutes or so it did and the set design and entire cast were magnificent. The stage and set design was vast including a trap door under a rug that sadly caught itself in the rug while being raised. As BC was once again, alone on stage and acting his socks off, the stage manager with her headset on walks up to BC and whispers in his ear that the play has to stop for a second time for health and safety reasons. BC storms off to the rear of the stage and through a large door. At the top of his voice he screams, FUCK!!! I have to say that did make my chuckle. This pause in the performance was a little longer but did result in a treat with BC coming out into the audience and apologising. He explained that it was only the 4th night and some wrinkles need to be ironed out. Certainly different.

I’m told that you can’t really judge a play till press night despite the press already giving it rave reviews. The stoppages were however a memorable addition to a memorable performance of Hamlet. I would normally say, its well worth a watch but unless you have £1500 for a ticket I’d wait for the DVD.


Moli does Crossrail…

Today I was allowed to visit one of the construction sites of Crossrail.

The Crossrail project is an underground tunnel stretching across London and connecting new and existing areas together for the first time and making journey times far shorter. At a cost of over £15bn, it’s a massive engineering project that should be ready for passenger use by 2018. As I’m living near a couple of the proposed stations I’ve been interested in the engineering, science, technology and some of the improved travel times, such as Custom House to Heathrow in 43 minutes which is much better than the current 74 minutes. I also think this will add great value to the area and do wonders for house prices.

Crossrail - North Woolwich


Crossrail - North Woolwich

The drill head that cut under the Thames, called Sophia, had just finished its job and was awaiting removal back to Germany to be dismantled. The size and depth of the site was truly awesome and the engineering team that escorted me around were very informative and knowledgeable. This certainly wasn’t on the tourist map and I doubt anyone will ever get the chance to go on site without an engineering qualification. Also, the Crossrail team were not travel guides but that didn’t stop them being very hospitable and friendly. A very different and interesting Sunday morning.