There is something magical about a mural. Experiencing a mural in a public space is very different to tip-toeing around an art gallery or shuffling through a museum.
Murals can be found in the most unusual of locations and tend to be in parts of town suffering neglect or decline. They can appear on the sides of abandoned buildings, a block of flats in that densely populated neighbourhood or that boring wall in that parking garage. Its presence is usually a surprise to the onlooker who has ‘happened’ upon it unexpectedly. They turn a corner and bam, there it is! A vibrant, intricate work of art that, more times than not, has a positive , uplifting affect on the onlooker.
This was my experience in Brixton Market in London, England. I suddenly came upon a large mural of a black man with a colourful scarf and dreads. I was in Brixton to film a vlog on another subject. I knew the mural existed, I had seen it online, but didn’t know where it was exactly. So when I ‘happened’ upon it, I was stopped me in my tracks. Grabbed by the beauty, the size, the skill in the artwork and the odd location. I had to lean right back to appreciate its full height, getting in the way of shoppers as they went about their day. The locals were now oblivious to this masterpiece, it had been there a while and was now just another fabric of the market.
After filming my other vlog I returned to the mural to film it too. The original plan was to tag it to the end of the vlog I had just filmed. Once finished I began to make my way home and there stood before me … a man … who looked suspiciously like the subject of the mural. He smiled and I could see it was him. And from his demeanour, I knew he was used to people recognising him from the mural. I approached for a chat and you can enjoy the results of that meeting is my vlog, 20 Foot Grenadian In Brixton . And yes, it’s the complete truth, that is how I met him!
I live on the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada and for its size there are plentiful artists, artwork and murals. A couple years ago I did a ‘Stunning Murals In Grenada‘ vlog documenting three murals that I passed daily. This year it felt right to document some of the other incredible murals across the island. Art, in general, seems to play a significant and important role on the island of Grenada and so I also plan to explore some of the stories behind the artwork.
Reason One: MURALS BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO OLD SPACES! Murals help to beautify what could be described as a run down or neglected area and help to uplift drab walls and buildings. In my new series I feature murals from a ‘Beautify Grenada’ project. Grenadian muralist, artist and film-maker, Nahshon Jeremiah, is creating a mural in every parish across the spice island and each mural is a celebration of Grenadian way of life and culture. The space he uses are mostly dull walls that people pass everyday but now they will have something to help lift their spirits as they go about their daily lives.
Reason Two: MURALS AND MURALISTS ARE INSPIRATIONAL. The whole point of a mural is to inspire, to make the onlooker think and feel. To educate, to empower and to give hope. They encourage fellow artists to raise their game and youth to deliver more than mindless graffiti. Many projects across the world have worked with groups, in the local community, to develop particular murals in the space where they live and work. These projects help to inspire, increase a sense of belonging and community and give local people a voice.
Reason Three: MURALS ARE A FINANCIAL BOOST FOR LOCAL BUSINESS. Some murals are so engaging, they attract gawkers from far and wide. As a result a once forgotten street, or neighbourhood, will experience more footfall thus boosting the bottom line for local businesses. Lots of companies are also placing murals directly on the walls of their business, making the area more trendy, creating a trend and helping them to stand out from the crowd.
Reason Four: MURALS ARE INSTAGRAMMABLE. Instagram is the social media platform for the ‘selfie’ generation and instagrammers are constantly on the lookout for that perfect background. The Angel Wings murals are my favourite. So cool.
Reason Five: MURALS ARE GREAT FOR CELEBRATING ICONIC FIGURES: Famous people, from the world of entertainment, tend to live ‘larger than life’ lives anyway and so a larger than life mural is the perfect way in which to both celebrate and commemorate them. Locals love it, especially if that celebrity is from their home town. Not only does it fill them with pride but it also makes them feel closer to their icon.
Reason Seven: MURALS ARE ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE. Because murals are in a public space, it can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of age, wealth, religious beliefs, political persuasion or skin colour. Of course, depending on the part of the world, a mural can also be used for political propaganda.
Reason Eight: MURALS HELP IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH: If you live in a concrete jungle, with row upon row of high rise and low rise grey buildings, it can be disheartening. It has been proven that vibrant artwork, painted over drab asphalt, not only helps to boost community spirits but also alleviates anxiety and depression . The same could be said for those who happen upon a mural whilst on a ‘pandemic’ walk escaping the home after months of lockdown. A mural allows them to stop, breathe, take in what they see, think about something else – besides what is going on in the world – breathe again and then continue with their walk!
Reason Nine: MURALS ARE PEFECT FOR CARRYING A SOCIAL MESSAGE. Whether its to remind you to vote, wear a mask, not use plastic, protect the ocean, the planet or endangered animals – murals are in-your-face and engaging platforms for driving the message home. In the case of George Floyd, killed by US police over a minor incident, murals popped up across the world to both honour his memory and to encourage action against police brutality.
Reason Ten: MURALS HONOURING COVID19 FRONT LINE WORKERS. 2020 has been a year like no other. Because of the Covid19 pandemic millions have died, and continue to die, and lives have been turned upside down due to world-wide lockdowns. But throughout it all, frontline workers, such as healthcare workers, teachers, shop owners, farmers, factory workers (to name but a few) have bravely continued to help those in need and help keep the economy ticking over. Quite fittingly, many have been honoured in murals across the world.
I hope you enjoyed this blog. Please check out my ‘Murals Across Grenada‘ vlog. And the best way to support my you tube channel is to watch the ads to the end or buy me a smoothie: https://ko-fi.com/krissmg!