Little Portugal Mural

As part of the Vauxhall Night Time Enterprise Zone, a programme funded by the Mayor of London, to support and grow the 24-hour economy in London’s town centres, The Brixton Project alongside artists Alex Bowie and Eduarda Craveiro engaged the portuguese speaking diaspora in Stockwell to co-design a mural that could strengthen the area’s historic and cultural character, while celebrating and representing the local community.

A cross section of Lambeth’s Portuguese community was engaged, from school children to elders. Community partners such as SOMOS, wellbeing groups, young people’s services, community centres, resident’s associations, and local businesses were then identified. This project sought to teach us more about the community we live in, tracing the routes both familiar and foreign from Madeira to Mozambique, Cape Verde to Campinas, that led us all here. The mural connects diverse diasporas to the streets, schools, estates, and local businesses that we all know and love. 

Alex & Eduarda then facilitated 3 community co-design workshops exploring the histories, identities, and experiences of Lambeth’s Portuguese community. Ensuring as many stories as possible were represented in the final design, workshops were made accessible to those with English as a second language, precarious working hours, childcare responsibilities, and access requirements. From these workshops, key themes were teased out and developed, such as the coração. The design was then iterated on with feedback from the community during progress updates. 

In the final design, the Coração de Viana is the central element, filled with the silhouettes of icons from Portuguese speaking countries around the world. The colours inside are taken from the traditional dress of Madeira and also the flags of the Portuguese speaking countries around the world. The heart is sewn onto the blue background representing the crafts that many of the people we spoke to loved taking part in the project. 

Inside at the top in the yellow section is the sun, an important icon which was highlighted by many.  In the green section, we have pottery from Portugal and Madeira, Wine from Portugal and an Olive Ridley Turtle which is native to Goa. In the orange section we have a carnival mask which is celebrated in Brazil and Cape Verde. We have a Berimbau which is played in Angola and is used during Capoeira ceremonies in Brazil. The drum is from Guinea-Bissau and is also played in Mozambique. The pointed hat is from the traditional dress of Madeira. In the red section, the knife and fork represent eating and sharing food together. The fish represents the seafood which is eaten in many Portuguese speaking countries. The guitar is a Fado guitar which is on display at the Three Lions Restaurant on South Lambeth Road. 

The background of the oval is blue which represents water and the sea which was a key theme which came out of our research. Around this oval is a banner welcoming people to the area in both English and Portuguese. This suggestion came from our feedback session at Wheatsheaf Hall as residents felt it was important for the signage to be both in English and Portuguese. The writing Is in blue, simulating the traditional blue and white Portuguese tiles which adorn the interiors of many of the restaurants on South Lambeth Road. 

The foliage on either side of the heart within the banner are flowers and plants from different

Portuguese speaking countries. During consultation, nature and flowers kept coming up as key themes. 

On the left hand side we have the carnation which is an important symbol of the Portuguese Revolution. Below this is a Lotus flower representing Macau. Underneath this are Cacao pods from Sao Tome and Principe and below a blue Hydrangea from the Azores. 

On the right hand side there is the Estreliza (Bird of Paradise) from Madeira. Underneath is a flower symbol taken from traditional textiles of East Timor. Moving down we have Cashew Nuts from Guinea-Bissau and a Gerbera which is the national flower of Cape Verde. Finally at the bottom of this is a palm tree, which is found in Brazil and Mozambique. The banner is surrounded by stitching which is from the traditional Lenços dos Namorados which we learnt about at the start of our engagement. 

Once finalised, the mural was installed over a week-long period, and launched with an evening event, attended by community members, local businesses and Portuguese speaking news outlets. This event was a festive gathering filled with music, discussion and celebration of the local community.

Partners & Collaborators

Vauxhall NTEZ

The Vauxhall Night Time Enterprise Zone (NTEZ), known as #VauxhAllNight, brings footfall, activity and exciting events to one of London’s most dynamic 24-hour centres. #VauxhAllNight is the branding for the Vauxhall Night Time Enterprise Zone, a Mayor of London-funded programme that aims to activate the area through events and extended opening hours, improve the public realm, support businesses and night workers, and strengthen the inclusivity of the nighttime offers.

Eduarda Craveiro

Eduarda is a multi-disciplinary artist who primarily focuses on the relationships between the past and future through collected and often discarded materials. Inspired by tales of the past, Portuguese folklore and magical portals into history, she asks you to come with her on journeys and investigate seemingly meaningless aspects of daily life!

Alex Bowie

Mind explosions and creative interventions of a Scottish girl in London with a fascination for colour and shape.