Postman’s Park in the Making

The Postman’s Park poster, that currently features in the Flow Calendar 2019, tells a story of a fabulous space in London. This post gives an insight into the park itself and the process behind the illustration.

Secret London

It all started with the theme of ‘Secret London’ so the first step was identifying my subject: less known place in London. After some online research I narrowed down my options to hidden gardens and odd museums. Eventually, this led me to visiting Postman’s park and the Victorian Operating Theatre. After much consideration, I went with Postman’s Park.

Postman’s Park, London

Postman’s Park received its name from the fact that postmen from the nearby post office used to come here to have their lunch. This small churchyard is located very near St Paul’s cathedral in the middle of the City of London.

This secret park is easy to miss as it’s surrounded by modern buildings. It offers many benches and a fountain to enjoy the beauty and peace in the middle of a busy city. The edges of the park hold several layers of gravestones of all sizes that date back a long time.

The park also hosts the Watts Memorial, which is a wall of tiles commemorating ordinary people who have given their lives to save others’. The memorial states G. F. Watts’ quote next to it: “The material prosperity of a nation is not an abiding possession; the deeds of its people are.”

The stories that the tiles reveal undoubtedly raise questions about the values of modern times, particularly those of the world of business which surrounds the park. They also speak of a strong sense of community and compassion.

Evolving themes

I was struck by the juxtaposition of the park’s peacefulness in amongst the busy city, old versus modern and the extraordinary stories of these ordinary people. Early on, I had the idea of a briefcase holding a secret garden. I like the fact that the briefcase has connotations of both business and confidentiality.

One other aspect of the memorial that caught my attention was the tiles themselves. There were two types of tiles on the memorial: the older tiles designed by William de Morgan and the Doulton tiles. They were both beautiful but I found the intricate cracks on the older tiles of William de Morgan intriguing. I started experimenting with crackle paste to achieve a similar effect.

Further research drew my attention to the fact that flowers used to have meanings in Victorian times. I stumbled upon a great resource about the language of flowers on the website of the Royal Horticultural Society. What interested me was that the flowers that used to have strong meanings were all common garden flowers. This resonated with the common people who became heroes. I was keen to reference this in my image, which was finally coming together.

Postman’s Park is a place of reflection that is made extraordinary by ordinary people, represented by ordinary flowers in my design. I highly recommend paying a visit if you are near St Paul’s in London.

The poster is available in my shop, in A3 and A2 sizes.