Following extensive flooding in a key retail area of Herne Hill in South London in 2013, footfall to the area had declined leading to a challenging trading environment for local retailers. In 2017, artist Caroline McCarthy was commissioned through Contemporary Art Society to develop an artwork with the aim of creating an exciting focal point for the high street, one which would undertake a meaningful rethinking of place and local identity through the creative lens of contemporary art.
The resulting project, Flying Boots & Eyes on Fire, is inspired by the local community, with stories, anecdotes and historical facts gathered by McCarthy over a period of extensive research and engagement translated into drawings and then rendered in stainless steel. Attached to the facades of buildings between Railton Road and Half Moon Lane, the drawings have been cut from a single sheet of steel which is displayed in the booking hall of Herne Hill station.
Installed in November 2018, the artwork speaks of a history of the area which existed quietly under the radar until this point, where individual stories of community action and resilience are celebrated through the trail. Maps are available through local shops.