Street art brightens up Sunderland pavements

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PAVEMENTS will be given a Picasso-esque makeover as street art takes over Sunderland.

An eye-catching mural has already been painted outside Revolution in High Street West as part of the Street Art Heroes project.

Commissioned by The Cultural Spring – a three-year Arts Council funded project working to increase engagement in the arts on ten wards in Sunderland and South Tyneside – it’s aimed at shining a spotlight on street art.

Artists from across the world will be working with local groups to identify local heroes, from the famous to the unsung, who will then be depicted on enamel portraits on pavements, sculptures and large street murals.

Canadian artist Peter Gibson, also known as Roadsworth, is responsible for the striking addition to High Street West.

He began his career in street art as a form of protest against car culture. He uses the yellow and white colouring of street signage in his stencilled pavement murals and had done so in 2004 when he was arrested in his native city of Montreal and charged with 53 counts of mischief over his public art.

Far from deterring him, his arrest led him into a full-time career.

He said: “It launched a new chapter in my life after the arrest, because of all the publicity, the invitations came in from all over the world asking me to come and create new pieces of pavement art.

“I’ve since worked all over Europe and further afield since then.”

His work reflects the surroundings he’s in or issues he feels passionate about.

His murals in Sunderland, however, may have a different theme: “I know about the African Festival that Sunderland BID has organised and that might be something for me,” he explained.

Although the first piece of work for the project is being produced in Sunderland city centre, the artists will be mainly working within some of The Cultural Spring wards – Castletown, Red House, Southwick, Fulwell and Roker/St Peter’s wards in Sunderland, and Biddick Hall and All Saints, Boldon, Cleadon, Whitburn/Marsden and Whiteleas in South Tyneside.

Rebecca Ball, project director for The Cultural Spring, said: “We hope people will get involved sharing the stories of their local heroes end enjoy the artwork produced.

“Street Arts Heroes was jointly commissioned by ourselves, the National Glass Centre and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art as our Autumn Lights project. It follows on from our launch event, the Great North Passion and our July community music festival, Summer Streets.”