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  • Forest Hill Society

New local art on display on Perry Vale

Updated: Jul 10

If you have taken a walk in the last week or two along Perry Vale on the approach to Forest Hill station, opposite the All Inn One pub, you may have seen a new collection of artworks that has been mounted to the station walls. We've included a gallery below in case you have missed it. We decided to interview the 'force' behind this, and find out what the story is.

pedestrians admire the new public art on forest hill station walls on Perry Vale, SE23
admiring the new boards

The person behind this project has been PCSO Andrea Woolrych, and if you've had the opportunity to meet her, you will not be surprised. Andrea is always full of energy and enthusiasm for all her projects, whether it is working with schools, charities and local organisations, or just meeting residents and members of the community in the street.

I asked her to summarise what she was trying to do. Her typically direct reply was: "... to brighten up Perry Vale, and it costing 'nowt"

While there have been a few community projects and investments in the Forest Hill and Honor Oak area, few have been exclusively for the benefit of the Perry Vale ward, an area that PCSO Andrea has been dedicated to for over 15 years so far. She already organises a regular series of concerts with local musicians in addition to her regular work. This time, her idea was to do something special and more permanent for, and with, the local community in the ward on the south and east of the railway for a change. Way back in 2019, Andrea decided to change this without having to wait for any particular funding or approval, but instead work with local businesses and organisations to make it happen.

As Andrea is a regular visitor to local schools and community organisations, her idea was to have them create individual and personalised artworks to put on display, an idea they enthusiastically supported. All but one of the organisations involved are, or were, within the Perry Vale ward, with the addition of James Roth Hunter Youth Support which is on the boundary but provides support for the young people of the Perry Vale ward as well.

Each group had complete freedom to develop their work to share their own message, which resulted in some highly individual and striking works with some strong messages, but also plenty of talented and creative content.

plaque to thank PCSO Andrea and other project supporters
Official plaque of thanks

Next, the question was how to make it happen. Our local Travis Perkins kindly supplied and donated the boards. Getting approval for putting the art on the walls was a much harder task. Initially, Arriva was keen to support the idea through their Community Projects investments, but overcoming the objections and processes of Network Rail proved to be the second biggest obstacle - the biggest being the COVID lockdown.

Just as the first boards were being completed in March 2020, the COVID lockdown meant that the groups could no longer get together at schools or in homes to finish the works, and getting them installed was impossible. However, Andrea persisted, and over the next couple of years the works were eventually completed. It only remained to get them mounted on the walls.

At this stage, the Perry Vale ward Lewisham Councillors assisted, and Lewisham Council had their contractor, Conway get involved. Conway not only found a way to overcome the objections and bureaucracy of Network Rail, but also then provided the team to put up the boards on the station walls.

I think you'll agree that these artworks make a statement about the local community, and give the area a unique look and story to tell. We hope to see even more community-driven installations in the area that might so the same - whether it is with art, plants, or other creative efforts.

The official unveiling of the art and plaque on Perry Vale took place on Wednesday, July 10th at 4:30PM when Andrea and other involved in this project were on hand to meet people and tell you the story in person.

A crowd gathers to hear a presentation about the artwork on Perry Vale from those who were involved
Official public unveiling of the artwork
PCSO Andrea presents the story behind the project with the help of the local schools involved
PCSO Andrea holds court, while St George's pupils hold the ribbon

Thank you PCSO Andrea for this gift for Perry Vale, and for all you do for the community.

Forest Hill Society

Story edited 10/7/24 to add photos from the official unveiling

The list of organisations who created the artworks are:

  • James Roth Hunter Youth Support CIC

  • Sydenham Garden

  • Adamsrill School

  • Forest Hill School

  • St George's CE Primary School

  • Kilmorie School

  • Lewisham Carers Hub

  • Stanstead Lodge Seniors Club

  • Young Lewisham Project


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