A massive graffiti mural has been completed on a building opposite St Pancras station today. The vivid artwork was commissioned by the building and hotel owner, Tony Megaro.
“The idea is basically to bring a bit of fun and colour to a drab stretch of road,” said Mr Megaro. “Now when you come out of St Pancras, you’ll think: wow, what’s that?”
The prominence and boldness of the painted design on Euston Road is likely to divide opinion, especially as it has been applied to a classically styled building.
Bill Reed, a local resident and member of the King’s Cross Conservation Area Advisory Committee, said: “It was an attractive building of high quality natural stone and brickwork that has now been knackered with a layer of permanent paint, that, like an unwanted tattoo, will never completely disappear.”
Mr Megaro denied that it marred or diminished the building and said the work was a colourful enhancement: “When you go to Barcelona you see all the coloured tiles and things like that. I think in this country we tend to be a bit conservative…it’s an impressive building, not an ugly building that we want to camouflage.”
He said that the design interacted with architectural features and “enhances some of the arches.” He added that the work had been thought and executed by four internationally commissioned artists, from the UK, New Zealand, the US and France.
A key concern of the mural’s critics is what it will look like as it ages and fades. Mr Megaro said it was supposed to last 20 years: “that’s what the paint company guarantees.”
But Mr Reed, who is also chair of nearby Argyle Square’s Friends’ group, said: “Exterior paintwork needs redecorating eventually, and when it does, this will probably end up a tasteful shade of cream, leaving no trace of either the eye-catching kaleidoscope of transient colour we see now, nor the enduring richness of the materials below that.”
Although in a conservation area, the building itself is not listed, and in Camden the owner of the building does not need to seek planning permission for this type of change.
“Personally I don’t have a problem with [the design],” said Mr Reed, “but you have got to separate the design from what they have done to the building.
“It’s probably quite amazing for people visiting, but people who live around here are going to have to deal with it for a long time,” he added.
It highlights the different regulation in central London boroughs – Westminster appears to require permission for murals, as wall-owners with a Banksy found.