WHAT should be done with a disused bus shelter in Malton? Food for thought in Yorkshire’s self-annointed “Food Capital”.
Step forward York arts and media company Art of Protest Projects, Malton Town Council and Static, a London artist duo with deep Scarborough roots, to administer a “public street art transformation” next to Malton Community Primary School in Highfield Road.
Static’s ex-pat North Yorkshiremen, Craig Evans and Tom Jackson, are celebrating creating their nearest painting to home after taking a derelict bus shelter and turning it into “a bright, energetic and colourful visual that completely changes the vibe of the street”.
As Jeff Clark, director of Art Of Protest Projects explains: “The goal of this vibrant transformation is to uplift and bring people’s attention to a structural space that was once an eyesore, but through imagination and creativity has been turned into an urban art gem.”
You wait ages for one bus shelter transformation in Malton, then along comes…? “It’s just the first of many more facelifts the town will receive in the coming year,” promises Jeff. “Street art has a captivating way to not only visually change a landscape, but also to draw people towards certain areas and start conversations about what colour, pattern and design mean and how they amplify a background.”
Whether a town or business wants to send a message, make a space feel safe or simply elevate and beautify an eyesore, urban art is the most effective vehicle of which to do so, Jeff contends.
“To be given the opportunity to convert a shelter on a street that was a country road seemed like a fun and exciting way to change a landscape,” he says. “The fact that there is a school next door is what really got me excited.
“What’s better than being able to spark imagination and creativity into young people? We are so amped by the reception this shelter makeover has already received and cannot wait to continue splashing colour around Malton.”
Suitably ecstatic Static artist Craig Evans says: “It was great to take on and transform this overlooked and unassuming piece of public architecture. Being no longer in use and seemingly belonging to no-one, we hope that our intervention here will inject some colour and creativity into the area and inspire the children from Malton Community Primary School and the people of Malton to see the potential in more public places and to take a fresh look at their surroundings.”
Councillor Paul Emberley, Malton’s town mayor, enthuses: “This is a fantastic transformation of a once-scruffy bus shelter and brings a little more cheer to our amazing town. People love it.”
Malton town clerk Gail Cook concurs: “The shelter is a few metres away from two of our schools and we wanted to create something really special that would inspire the children too – and these talented artists, Craig and Tom, have well and truly delivered!”
Up the A64, Art Of Protest Projects have stationed a host of Guardians Of York on guard on the walls of York, combining street artworks of cultural heroes such as broadcaster and natural world activist Sir David Attenborough, newly crowned with mauve hair, on the riverside by Ouse Bridge with 11 murals to “honour and elevate pandemic key workers from York”.
In tandem with the York BID, Clark’s public art champions have worked with The Postman, the anonymous international street artist collective from Brighton, to create the ancient city’s first urban art installation.
The works, a kinetic fusion of the Pop Art palette and brash punk energy, celebrate the Guardians Of York, who helped to keep York moving when the city – and the world – came to a standstill during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Eleven essential workers, all of them York residents, were recorded by a professional film crew in the closed Debenhams store in Davygate, giving their account of the hardships of working through the upheaval created by the pandemic, and all had their portrait photographs taken.
Taking part were: Becky Arksy, primary school teacher; Pauline Law, police officer; Sally and Mark Waddington, York Rescue Boat; Martin Golton, street cleaner, and Steve Wasowa, ICU anaesthetist, York District Hospital.
So too were: Steve and Julia Holding, owners of the Pig and Pastry, in Bishopthorpe Road, and founders of the Supper Collective; Steven Ralph, postal worker; Gill Shaw, Boots retail worker, and Brenna Hebrink, ICU nurse, York District Hospital.
Their images have been transformed into murals by The Postman collective, whose favoured artistic medium is pop-culture paste-ups, rooted in punk iconography, wherein they express themselves in brightly coloured, edgy, urban portraits, varying from street artworks of Nelson Mandela in South Africa to pop stars in Los Angeles.
“As the Guardians project builds momentum, we realise more and more how important it is to tell the stories of the people behind the masks,” say the mystery duo with roots in graffiti culture. “The key workers that have carried us through the last year inspired us and made a difference to everybody’s lives.”
The Guardians Of York are on display on city-centre walls in a three-month installation from April 9 to July 9, in a show of gratitude to key workers timed to coincide with the relaxation of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of many of the city’s “non-essential” businesses from April 12.
Recalling the flour-based dissolving street art of York memorial artist Dexter, The Postman have applied their paper-based large-scale artworks to walls with wheat paste, their impermanent form of art fading and washing away over time, duly “creating a buzz as people seek them out before they disappear”.
Mounting the Guardians Of York is a passion project for Jeff and The Postman. “They like to do street art that makes a difference, and my partner is an NHS frontline worker, so I’ve seen every day how Covid has worn them down, sacrificing their own health. It’s no wonder that nurses have gone down, had to stop working, because they’re frazzled,” he says.
“They’ve had to go into a war-like atmosphere, where normally you’d do a tour and then be sent home, for a break, but that’s not been the case. That’s why my heart and soul has gone into this project.” To watch a video about the project, go to: https://youtu.be/7cUpnE1M-sw
Who are Static?
STATIC is the combined creative output of Scarborough-bred Craig Evans and Tom Jackson, who collided in 2006 in a derelict block of flats with a sea view and have since worked with assorted international galleries and painted murals in the UK and as far away as Japan.
The Static duo have been based in London since 2008 and are founding members of Wood Street Walls, where they spent two months renovating a disused school building to create a shared workspace, Wood Street Studios, for its opening in 2017.
One of the largest community street art projects in Britain, Wood Street Walls uses street art to drive awareness and funding for community schemes and projects involving children and education.
Static’s studio work is created using a combination of screen-printed and stencil/spray-painted techniques, and they also produce layered glass artworks that play with space and how perceived 2D visuals can shift to reveal a 3D picture. Their works are collected by the Saudi Royal family and musicians Natalie Appleton, of All Saints, and Liam Howlett, of The Prodigy, among others.
In 2018, Static held their first solo exhibition in their home county, presenting Born & Raised at the Art Of Protest Gallery’s original premises in Little Stonegate, York, from, October 19 to 31.
During their York residency, Evans and Jackson painted a floor mural in the Art Of Protest Gallery and a wall mural at Brew York, Walmgate. For more information on Static, go to: welikestatic.com.