Warhol Month event review: the guided art walk

By - Wednesday 13th September, 2017

A walk on the wild artistic side in Croydon Town Centre

Young Warhol by Ron English; Photo by Bernadette Fallon

September is Warhol Month in Croydon. It marks the thirtieth anniversary of the death of artist Andy Warhol with a whole series of events that includes lectures, film screenings, workshops, Warhol-inspired walking tours and cocktails – yes, cocktails – to celebrate the big man’s work. One hundred and fourteen events in total.

And – get this. It’s all completely free. All you have to do is book and show up.

The Warhol-inspired walking tours run afternoons and evenings throughout September, visiting specially-commissioned artworks around Croydon that have been created in homage to Warhol’s life and work. Led by RISE gallery’s Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, Pop Art expert and the brains behind Warhol Month, it’s a gentle walk around key spots in Croydon and a chance to see familiar places in a whole new light.

Pure Transparency by Simon Freeborough; Photo by Bernadette Fallon

Like the Whitgift shopping centre entrance surmounted by a Chanel perfume print – “I thought that was an ad”, we all chorused in surprise standing in front of it. Or Ruskin Square, now merrily referencing Warhol’s Chelsea Girls film – one of his shorter offerings at three and a half hours. I’m not joking. His Empire runs for over eight hours. Four Stars for twenty-five. Not a man who liked to spend much time in the editing suite. You can see Chelsea Girls in the David Lean cinema on 22nd September.

There are Mona Lisas with Marge Simpson hair-dos at Matthews Yard. Playing with the idea of Warhol’s famous repetitive prints. There’s a Mick Jagger on Wellesley Road. Referencing his famous celebrity prints.

Jagger by Dan Cimmermann; Photo by Bernadette Fallon

There are all sorts of artists involved in this project. From locals Simon Freeborough and Mark Petty, to Ron English, who has painted his son as Andy Warhol right opposite East Croydon station. He’s just back from raising a ruckus in China where his giant Ronald McDonald figure encountered some opposition from, er, McDonalds. Ben Eine is a former City insurance broker turned street artist, who back in his corporate days used to carry cans of paint in his briefcase. Peter Dunne is an Irish artist whose work answers the question, ‘What would have happened if Warhol visited Devon?’

Skeleton Soup Can by Rich Simmons; Photo by Bernadette Fallon

There are Warhol takes on flyovers, on hoardings and on Croydon nightclubs. One sits just over the 380 metre ‘free wall’ that surrounds the former Taberner House site, now home to Croydon’s Saffron Project. Did you know that Croydon even had a free wall, a space where graffiti artists can work unchallenged by the authorities, the largest such space in London? Because this is the sort of thing you’ll find out on the tour. It’s a fascinating insight into, not just the life and work of Warhol, but also a look at the street art of Croydon and the artists who work here.

Famous by Chu; Photo by Bernadette Fallon

And of course, you’ll also get all the insider stories and behind the scenes info from Warhol’s life. The ‘in the know’ way you can recognise an authentic Jagger print. The lowdown on the most popular Campbell’s soup can in the series. And you’ll finish up back in RISE gallery for a private tour of the Warhol show. One of the ACTUAL soup cans. A Mick Jagger print. Some of these works haven’t been seen in public for over 30 years. Some, as part of private collections, may never be seen again.

Warhol exhibition at RISE gallery; Photo by Bernadette Fallon

You don’t need to be particularly fit to do the walk – I did it walking with a crutch on a fairly windy evening and resisted the temptation to call this article ‘Warhol walk in the wind by the wounded’. You can even do it from the comfort of home, with the ‘virtual tour’ on the Warhol Croydon website that takes you through the details of each artwork.

And there’s an app. Of course there’s an app. If Warhol was around today he’d be all about the apps. Download it and take your own tour.

But, with a real-life walking experience on offer and all of Kevin’s fascinating knowledge to soak up, why would you want to do that?

Warhol Month continues throughout September with a packed programme of superb events ranging from talks by international Warhol experts to a pop art workshop with cocktails. Every single event is free. Walks are taking place daily: for details click here.

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette has been a journalist since the age of 7 when she devised, designed and launched ‘Fallon’s News’ – much to her family’s delight. Brought up in Ireland, she was born in Addiscombe where she now lives, though it took her several decades to find it again. She works as a journalist and broadcaster. Follow her at Twitter.com/bernibee

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