Thanks to the financial gifts from supporters who were keen on the idea, we (Lee Abbey Knowle West) commissioned the newly-formed youth group StreetSpace (who meet on our street) to graffiti our wall.
The community house’s back garden wall gives onto an alleyway that is very regularly used for fly-tipping, but which is used daily for access by the families that live in the flats, and parents and school children on their way to the local catholic school.
The graffiti artist (www.olasart.com) was given the remit of getting the young people to brighten up the alley with the themes (values) of peace, hope, community, friendship and neighbourliness.
Several of the residents from the flats came to say how much nicer the wall is now.
Take a look at the result:
You’ve seen the product. Now about the process; in the artist’s words:
A young man decided to have the smiling face over the corner, so that it could be seen from both sides, and was the main thing that greets you as you walk up the alley. Also it gave the brilliant effect of using the green bush as the character’s hair!
While we were painting it, a young girl was referring to another girl of dual heritage by a racist nickname “Nigs”. The girl was younger, and was pretending that she liked the nick name. I challenged this and discussed with them how skin colour is not a good way of dividing people up, in the same way that the colour of your eyes shouldn’t mean you get different treatment.
It was then the younger girl’s idea to paint each side of the face a different colour, to demonstrate how we are all human and want to be smiling. Later a young lad didn’t understand that it was meant to be two different skin shades and started painting over one side. It was then the older girl, who had been using the term “Nigs” who kicked off and explained to this lad that it was supposed to be two different shades, and the concept behind it. She then began re-doing it, restoring it back to one face with two shades.