9 April 2024

An Elephant with a very long trunk – Guinness advertising in Camden

Here's a thing. I was recently wandering around the Lismore Circus area prior to my Elephants Escape guided tour just looking at buildings, wandering down side streets, etc. As I headed up Southampton Road, approaching the railway line I looked across at the painted walls that surround the railways. This is from google streetview, looking north, the direction I was walking:

As I approached the bus stop on the western side I happened to noticed that the mural to my left included a Guinness bottle. Up close it was hard to make out so I stepped back to the kerb to get a wider view and saw that there was the word Guinness next to the bottle, rendered in a sort of blobby black letterform. 

And then I noticed that the letters are either birds, like an Ostrich making the 'G' pouring Guinness from a bottle into the U and the two black swans at the end depicting 'SS', or the letters created by warped pints of Guinness like the letter 'e'. 

How jolly marvellous. I followed it along and found lots more references to those classic Guinness ads of old. This has to be the best bit of Guinness advertising I have ever seen. 

The legs of a walking female wearing wedge sandals, carrying a bottle and, to her right, what I think is the base of a pint of Guinness

A sealion with four pints of Guinness in front of him, possibly on plates

I think this might be a pale pink bird, possibly a crane with a long beak and spiky head feathers 

And then, there are lots of yellow circles and a pale grey arc coming in from the right...

... which turns out to be the very long trunk of an elephant reaching past the Guinness harp motif and blowing bubbles, no doubt Guinness bubbles. Hard to get a good shot of this section being as the bus shelter is in the way.

The tusks are more like those on a woolly mammoth.
And it appears he's singing a song, as depicted by those musical notes.

The far end of the wall is rather faded. But his front legs clearly show that he is running, keen to get to that Guinness!

The strange thing is, I can't spot anything resembling a toucan which was Guinness's most commonly used bird. And, having googled and searched for images of this mural to see how it looked when it was first installed, I have found absolutely nothing at all. In fact the Google streetview from 2009, below, shows the wall has been looking the same for at least 15 years. 

I am also wondering, considering that many things depicted here seem to be decapitated, if an extension to the brick wall was in place when the mural was painted, such as a 2ft strip of wood running the full length.

It's amazing that it's still here at all, especially as the walls on the other side of the road have been overpainted a few times. See here.

If anyone has any information or can date this please do get in touch. Similarly if you have any photos of this it when it was all bright and shiny, I'd love to see them.

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Thanks, Jane