No 4 Church Lane Café not so “hidden” after Art Of Protest Projects’ mural facelift

Art Of Protest Projects give a fresh look to the No 4 Church Lane Café frontage in York

THE No 4 Church Lane Café in a “hidden city-centre corner” is joining York’s new urban art plan.

Tucked away just off Coney Street, the café has commissioned Guardians Of York perpetrators Art Of Protest Projects to deliver a shot of vibrant colour in the form of a geometric painted mural, designed by the projects’ in-house team of Brenna Allsuch and Natasha Clarke.

“The new mural has instantly changed the landscape and vibe of the area and added a sense of playful excitement,” says Brenna. “The fresh splash of paint speaks for itself and invites patrons to enjoy a brew and a butty while bringing a new sense of identity to the area.” 

Prompting smiles: The new look at No 4 Church Lane Café

Café owner Tess Harrison says: “I couldn’t be happier with the delivery of this wonderful mural and the smiles it has brought to my everyday regular customers, as well as the new business it’s brought in.

“From the planning stages right through to the execution and final reveal, the team at AOP Projects has made this a really fun experience and it’s turned out to be an emotional journey for me as my shop front has a whole new vibe!” 

This café frontage adds to AOP Projects’ portfolio of murals and art trails across York and beyond, most notably the Guardians Of York project in tribute to “lockdown heroes”, created by Brighton street art collective The Postman, that wrapped up this week.

Even the paving has been jazzed up at No 4 Church Lane

“We’ve been working on some exciting things across Yorkshire, but we definitely place a priority on developing our home base: the city of York,” says project support manager Brenna. 

“The crew is looking to add more urban art in the form of paintings, installations and interactive seating and lighting displays as York continues on its path to upgrading the city streets and creating an edgy and visually appealing vibe for both locals and tourists.

“Watch out for more projects hitting the streets in the coming months and visit our website at artofprotest.co.uk to learn more about upcoming events and urban art.”

Brenna Allsuch, Art Of Protest Projects’ project support manager, artist and ICU nurse at York Hospital, stands by her Guardians Of York mural, designed by The Postman, in Bishopthorpe Road, York. Picture: Dave J Hogan

Founder and director Jeff Clark sums up AOP Projects’ mission: “There is a real thirst here for continuing to make the city walls our canvas and to make York an urban art hot spot. This is our speciality, we liaise with artists and city planners to deliver world class-murals that tell stories and involve the community.”

Farther afield, AOP Projects have teamed up with Doncaster Creates and Doncaster Council to unveil a facelift to a derelict park in Doncaster, with support from Arts Council England and external grant funding.

“We’re excited to announce the reimagination of Baxter Park, Wheatley, through the use of street art, sustainable play structures and rewilding, completely transforming the landscape of this urban space, finished with naturalisation and grassing of the surrounding space” says Jeff.

Static’s gable-end wall mural and “jaw-dropping horizontal floor paint” at Baxter Park, Wheatley, Doncaster

Doncaster Creates and AOP Projects have commissioned Static, a London artist duo with Scarborough roots, to design a gable-end wall mural and apply “jaw-dropping horizontal floor paint” to the park’s grounds.

Wood worker and designer Lewis Morgan, from Doncaster, has designed and constructed an array of sustainable, functional wood play structures and created several innovative, visually striking bug hotels, dotted around the park. “These beneficial structures support biodiversity and offer a space for propagation, encouraging the natural ecology to flourish,” says Jeff. 

To unify the space and facilitate the health of natural flora and wildlife, Street Scene, from Doncaster Council, have implemented a rewilding and grassing initiative to “bring ongoing growth to support the park’s aesthetic and ecological elements”.

A close-up of Static’s street art at Baxter Park

“This multi-phased park relaunch and the engagement sessions that have guided the designs and outcomes have already sparked a lot of excitement, as the primary mission is to transform the landscape and narrative of this area in need of imagination and rediscovery,” says Jeff. 

“The vision for Baxter Park, in Wheatley, is to be a place of play for families and children and to detract from antisocial behaviour that can be problematic in an urban park. Through public engagement and programmes to support a healthy space, this park will not only be visually appealing, but will give back to the community.” 

Created with longevity in mind, Baxter Park will be a space where Doncaster locals and visitors can enjoy wildlife in an urban setting with a big, bold splash of colour and imagination.

Art Of Protest Projects director Jeff Clark: Overseeing the creation of a “world-leading urban art space” in Doncaster

“Art has always been about affecting the hearts and minds of the people who live in and among it,” says Jeff.

“The opportunity to take a space such as Baxter Park in Doncaster, which lacked investment, and turn it into what is now a world-leading urban art space was just too good to turn down.” 

Mike Stubbs, creative director of Doncaster Creates, says: “We are thrilled to welcome Static to Doncaster and Lewis Morgan back to his hometown to support this project, which will enhance the park area and the local community.

The floral meets the mural in Static’s designs for Baxter Park, Doncaster

“The collaboration with Doncaster Council is incredible: to see the fusion of art and nature in an urban setting. I’m really pleased to see kids playing footie in the park already.” 

Static artists Craig Evans and Tom Jackson say: “We’re really pleased to be part of this project at Baxter Park. There’s sometimes scepticism about how much ‘painting a wall’ can change things, but once people see it being done, the majority respond positively.

“We’ve been working towards this project for over a year, and to finally be here and to see the way residents are responding, particularly in the wake of Covid and the restrictions on where people can go, feels rewarding, with people enjoying an area that otherwise seems to feel overlooked.” 

Manic Street Preachers…pretentious or what? Up for Chalmers & Hutch debate in Two Big Egos In A Small Car episode 43

WHAT’s up with chatty art podcast duo Chalmers & Hutch? We need to talk about two steps forward, but Step 3 stumble? Deer Shed at Base Camp. LIVE theatre at last! Marc Bolan & T Rex: 21st Century Boy. Street art & what makes a “hero” fit for a mural?

Oh, and yes, Manic Street Preachers…pretentious or what?

Here’s the link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/8550398

Thready Pulse and J.See set bench mark with tranquil and mindful city-centre installation amid York’s shopping bustle

Bench mark: Jeff “J.See” Clark and Brenna “Thready Pulse” Allsuch stand by Art Of Protest Projects’ mural and photography installation in Parliament Street, York

TRANQUILITY through mindfulness is the aim of Art Of Protest Projects’ public street art collaboration with Thor’s Tipi Bar in York.

Project director Jeff Clark and communications  and support manager Brenna Allsuch are wearing different hats this time, bringing their own vibrant, uplifting mural and photography installation to Parliament Street at the epicentre of the city’s re-opened shopping streets.

Working under the monikers of Thready Pulse and J.See, respectively, muralist Brenna and photographer Jeff have created eight works for display on four benches to make their mark on the urban landscape.

Jeff Clark taking a photograph by York Minster

Focused on mindfulness and finding a quiet moment of peace in bustling and energetic surroundings, this series of installations – with large board canvases as backrests – features Brenna’s painted mountain range on one side and Jeff’s series of black-and-white cityscape photographs on the other.

“The aim of this collaborative project is to invite people to take a quiet rest as they soak in the city landscape,” says Jeff, whose latest project comes on the heels of the ongoing Guardians Of York, the AOP Projects and York BID collaboration with Brighton street artist collective The Postman to “honour and elevate” pandemic key workers from York.

“Placing art within an urban setting has the power to stop passers-by and encourage them to reflect on something they wouldn’t normally expect to see. It also draws people into the space and allows for conversation and engagement with friends and strangers alike.

Take a seat: Jeff Clark sits on one of his “Tranquility through Mindfulness” benches on Parliament Street, York

“This specific project uses various mediums in the form of paint, photography and construction to allow a multifaceted approach to urban seating and art.” 

Thready Pulse and J. See’s bench installation is dedicated to their beloved friend, Michael Feather, who passed away in April. “Michael was the father of our production manager and close friend, Craig Feather,” says Brenna.

“He sadly lost his battle with cancer just four weeks ago and we’ve all been feeling his loss. He was not an artist himself, but an amazing master joiner and carpenter who helped rebuild Chatsworth House [in Derbyshire].

In memory of Michael Feather: Brenna Allsuch and Jeff Clark pay tribute to their late friend’s love of nature and stillness with their bench installation for the public to enjoy tranquility amid the Parliament Street bustle

“Michael was a big part of our lives and his love of nature and stillness served as the inspiration for this piece. His continuous smile and curiosity with the world around him will be sorely missed, but our hope is that this project will serve as a reminder of his impact on his family and our community.”

Brenna and Jeff are grateful to City of York Council for funding and Make It York and York BID for their support. “We’re so excited for this installation to bring smiles and hopefully a feeling of peaceful mindedness to the city of York,” she says.

“Working on these murals and knowing they will be so prominently placed within the city allowed me to step outside of my usual practice and create a series of works that wants to invite people in, stop them in their tracks and allow them to just take a deep breath and refocus their busy mind.”

“Walking through a busy city centre, you don’t expect to come around the corner and see a large mountain landscape,” says Jeff Clark, as he applies his brush to Brenna Allsuch’s mural

Jeff adds: “Walking through a busy city centre, you don’t expect to come around the corner and see a large mountain landscape. Even better, as you walk away and reflect back on the installation, the other side features high-impact iconic black and white imagery of the city of York.”

Under his nom de l’art of J.See, multi-media artist and photographer Jeff Clark works with multi- layered images but predominantly 35mm black-and-white negative film that he then hand processes in a dark room, as well as digital images from various cameras.

Brenna Allsuch, alias Thready Pulse, is a hand-embroidery artist, mural designer and painter from her home studio in York. Trained as an ICU nurse, she is also AOP Projects as head of communications and project support manager. 

“I first painted a mountain mural on a wall in my home and fell in love with mixing colours and creating a sense of depth just by adding lights and darks together,” says muralist Brenna Allsuch

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Brenna moved around Australia and Europe – Norway, Germany and Ireland – and ended up in Austin, Texas, where she spent 15 years. “I moved to the UK almost four years ago and came to York because I wanted to leave the USA and settle in a city where I could raise my kids in a safer environment,” she says.

“Between the political landscape in the USA and having the ability to move abroad, thanks to having English citizen children, York seemed like a great place to settle, and I’m so glad I moved here; I absolutely love it.” 

If her mountain artwork looks familiar to you from another York locale, you are correct: she designed the glass-frontage display at Skosh, Neil Bentinck’s restaurant of the gods in Micklegate.

Mountainous task: Brenna Allsuch, alias Thready Pulse, at work on her bench mural in Parliament Street, York

“I’ve always loved the mountains and have always had an interest in murals,” says Brenna, who also uses mountains as a reference in her modern hand embroidery.

“I first painted a mountain mural on a wall in my home and fell in love with mixing colours and creating a sense of depth just by adding lights and darks together.

“Having painted the mountain mural for Skosh, it seemed like an easy choice when we were approached by Thor’s Tipis to create a backdrop on interesting urban benches. I’m excited to continue to explore mountain ranges as a form of murals, as well as other landscapes, both realistic and abstract.”

Brenna Allsuch, ICU nurse, embroiderer, mural artist and Art Of Protest Projects project manager, poses beside street art collective The Postman’s mural of her in Bishopthorpe Road for their Guardians Of York installation. Picture: Dave J Hogan

Explaining the moniker Thready Pulse, Brenna says: “It comes from the medical term defined as ‘a scarcely perceptible and commonly rapid pulse that feels like a fine mobile thread under a palpating finger’.

“I’ve practised as a registered nurse for eight years, most recently working in the intensive care unit at York District Hospital, and when I first delved into the world of embroidery art about three years ago, I thought this was a fitting name for me, suggesting my love for both medicine and fibre arts.”

Her work as an ICU nurse in pandemic times has seen Brenna feature in The Postman’s series of Guardians Of York street art murals. Look out for her, shock of pink hair and all, on the end wall of Millie’s, the grocery store on Bishopthorpe Road.

Writing on the wall: Note the cacophony of words emanating from The Postman’s mural of Brenna Allsuch for the Guardians Of York installation series

Street artists Static give facelift treatment to derelict Malton bus shelter. Why?

Static at work on converting a derelict Malton bus shelter into a vibrant expression of public street art. Picture: Brenna Hebrink, Art Of Protest Projects project support manager

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”.

Once an eyesore of a disused bus shelter, now “an urban art gem”, in Highfield Road, Malton

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.

Art Of Protest Projects director Jeff Clark at the Coppergate Centre unveiling of The Postman’s Guardians Of York installations. He has overseen Static’s transformation of a Malton bus shelter too. Picture: Dave J Hogan

“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.”

The finishing touches: Static ready the Malton bus shelter facelift for its April 14 unveiling

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”.

York Hospital ICU anaesthetist Steve Wasowa mirrors his street art installation pose for The Postman’s Guardians Of York series. Picture: Dave J Hogan

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.

Street artists The Postman with their Guardians Of York artwork of police officer Pauline Law. Picture: Dave J Hogan

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 Allsuch, 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.

The Postman delivering a street art installation of The Pig And Pastry’s Julia Holding to Finkle Street

“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”.

The Postman sail their artwork of Sir David Attenborough aboard the York Rescue Boat at the Guardians Of York installation launch. Picture: Dave J Hogan

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

Static artists Craig Evans and Tom Jackson with their latest work, the transformed Malton bus shelter. Picture: Brenna Hebrink

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 poster for their Born & Raised exhibition at the Art Of Protest Gallery, York, in October 2018

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.

Arabella, by Static, from their Born & Raised exhibition in York