In search of HOPE

We all need it right now. But who on earth’s behind the area’s most uplifting graffiti tag?

Is HOPE about stirring us to be more upbeat rather than simply marking out territory?
Is HOPE about stirring us to be more upbeat rather than simply marking out territory?
Look around you. Over the years someone, for some reason, has painted HOPE in bold white capital letters on railway bridges and alongside rail lines across Kentish Town, Gospel Oak and around.

I’ve found nine examples – one almost scrubbed out of existence – and a tenth in a different style. There may be more out there.

Those who know about graffiti artists and street art say this isn’t a tag but an imprecation – HOPE is about stirring us to be more upbeat not simply marking out territory. Though if you look where HOPE surfaces, it’s a fairly tightly defined manor.

The three grandest examples? Mansfield Road just by Gospel Oak Station; Athlone Street close to Grafton Road (my favourite); and on Kentish Town Road just north of the canal. There are another half dozen slightly more ragged and faded, including one on the side of the tallest ventilation shaft above Kentish Town station which has been fairly determinedly blasted out. Once it competed for attention with Mr P’s cursive KENTISH TOWN! Now it’s almost indecipherable.


And on the other side of the Athlone Street rail bridge is the same word by a different hand, in a different style and colour – both echo of and tribute to the more ambitious rendering?

If I find out the full story, I’ll certainly share it. I managed to track down Kelvin ‘the Mushroom Maniac’, for example, who painted the smiley sun on Dartmouth Park Hill.

And in the meantime, don’t lose it. You know what.

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Read much more from Andrew Whitehead on his excellent blog here

Are you the person behind HOPE or do you know who is? Pray tell below, or email us:

  • Show Comments

  • Dawn

    Its a shame Mr P left off the exclamation mark!

  • Anthony

    Very boring, has no value whatsoever. The college lane example is particularly awful, almost as bad as the vandalism above kentish town station, disfiguring beautiful Victorian signage. Don’t encourage it by writing about it.

    • Ed

      The ‘KENTISH TOWN’ above the station is one of my highlights of the area. Its much better than any welcome sign.

  • Laura

    I live next to one of the HOPE “tags” and I LOVE it. Every time I walk up to my flat I see it and it just makes me smile! Whoever did it would have had their work cut out too as they would have either needed to put a ladder in the middle of the road or standing in the railway track! I feel it’s message of optimism to the local community.

  • Julietta

    Inspired article, I too have been wondering for the last ten years.