The Song of Hiawatha: A Composition by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
This community art piece consists of nine panels divided into three spaces underneath the bridge. The colour palette is minimalist, mainly consisting of green, white and brown pieces of glass and ceramic.
Artist Gary Drostle and Rob Turner were commissioned by the London Borough of Croydon to work in consultation with local schools and member of the community to create a mosaic mural.
The first section of the mosaic shows a person herding sheep, someone picking fruit from an orchard, a man moving bricks, Stanley Halls, a person conducting with the name Samuel Coldridge Taylor written below. Other local names included are Handley’s bricks, Steven’s Farm, W F Stanley and Conan Doyle. The final part of this section shows a vegetable garden and modern townscape with words such as ‘organic’, ‘think locally’ and ‘new energy’ displayed above or below the graphics.
The second section of the mural shows stories of transport. It has an image of the canal, an old steam train leading to a polluted congested city and finally showing people walking and cycling. The images are surrounded by the words, ‘congestion’, ‘cycle routes’ and ‘use buses’. The final section tells the story of the Great North Wood, showing images of trees, plants, dancers, oaks, bonfires, and modern people enjoying the outdoors. This is paired with words such as ‘charcoal burners’, ‘forest dwellers’ and ‘recreation’.
At 25 years old, the mural has remained in very good condition underneath the bridge and still is an improvement to the area. It also offers a chance to tune into the local history of South Norwood and the ideas of the local community in the 1990s.