Artist and printmaker Katrina Russell-Adams is Peckham-based, which is just as well as the area is a continuing source of fascination for her. With a mid-century feel in colour and tone, her wall art – which imbues bold colours and simple shapes – enables the viewer to build their own narrative. We spoke to her about the gigantic wall mural emblazoned on Copeland Park management office’s HQ, which appeared on-site in May 2018.

Tell me about the origins of the Copeland House mural / wall art – when did you first have the idea for it and what inspired you?

I was invited to design a mural to help celebrate and advertise the Peckham Festival in 2017. The mural was meant to go on a temporary space in a shop window at the Aylsham Centre however there was lots of red tape involved so the project was abandoned. At the start of 2018 I set myself the task of finding a permanent location for the mural. I approached Copeland Park as they initiated the Peckham Festival and they surprised me with offering the wall of the office; at 20m x 8m it is 8 times the original mural size. I needed to adapt the design to fit the scale and incorporate the windows of the building.

The ‘Shaping Peckham’ mural is inspired by Peckham landmarks, history, architecture and space; each abstracted shape has an SE15 origin. The mural includes the Peckham Lido fountain, Holdrons Department Store, Multi-story carpark stairwell, the library, the coal line, the River Peck, William Blake’s tree and the many arches that can be found around Peckham.

What is your background, and have you always worked on large format pieces?

My background is in local government and social housing working in Learning & Development and training front line staff in areas such as communication skills and dealing with conflict and aggression. About four years ago I took an adult learning course in screen printing and started experimenting with traditional methods using paper cut stencils. Since then, my hobby has grown and is now funding itself. This in turn has boosted my confidence and creativity which has resulted in my creation of kinetic mobile sculptures and mural designs.

Why do you prefer working with such bold colours?

All of my designs incorporate bold shapes and colours; they are seemingly simple yet are all carefully thought out. The colours I use are bright, noticeable and uplifting; it’s important to me that the designs are playful so the colour choice process is important.

What is it about working / living in Peckham that inspires you to create

There is a strong sense of community in Peckham; more noticeable for me around my children’s school; the local pub and also the creative community in and around Rye Lane. Since I have developed as an artist I have meet lots of other local creatives brimming with ethusasion and ideas. Its inevitable being so close to Goldsmiths, Camberwell and the South London Gallery.
I also have a strong family history; being sixth generation Peckham, my roots are here. My family has seen the changes and development of communities around the area that enable it to be the diverse and bustling place that it is now.

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I have a couple of private commissions in the pipeline and next week I’m about to extend ‘Shaping Peckham’ onto some temporary hoardings outside All Saints Church on Blenheim Grove. Otherwise I’m getting involved in the Peckham Festival again by taking part in the Open Studios event.

Follow Katrina on Instagram to check out the inspiration behind her ideas, and new work.