For those unfamiliar with it, it is a horizontal relief sculpture showing the layout of the docks in 1896, the year that the Commercial Dock Company and the Surrey Grand Canal and Docks Company amalgamated to become the Surrey Commercial Dock Company. It was made by Michael Rizzello O.B.E. in 1989, and was commissioned by the London Dockland Development Corporation. A bas-relief, it is made of bronze and is mounted on a granite base. One of the charms of the map is that when there has been rainfall each of the docks and channels fills with rainfall. Each of the docks is clearly labeled so if you know where Greenland Dock and South Dock are located in the real world it becomes quite easy to use the Stave Hill map to locate where other docks and ponds would have been. I can lose track of time looking at it because the detail is so fascinating.
The graffiti states "you're a slave to all of this." To what, precisely? To the ecological park, to the woodland, to the wildlife that lives there? A different message was painted on the plinth in July 2008, but the effect is the same: ugly defacement of a much-loved local landmark with absolutely no benefit to anyone, least of all the idiot who sprayed it there.
The Chair of the Friends of Russia Dock Woodland, Steve Cornish, has written to Southwark Council asking that the graffiti be removed as soon as possible. In 2008 it took weeks for it to be removed. Hopefully things have been improved since then.