Sunderland artist Frank Styles creates amazing mental health artwork at Wembley Stadium

Sunderland artist Frank Styles has brightened up the road to Wembley with a striking art work.

Saturday, 9th May 2020, 6:00 am
Frank Styles artwork at the Spanish steps at Wembley. Photo by Amanda Rose

Frank has become well-known on Wearside for his distinctive pieces across the city, including Raich Carter on the Blue House pub in Hendon, which has been seen by millions after featuring as a backdrop many times in Netflix series Sunderland ‘Til I Die; shipyard workers on the Shipwrights in Hylton riverside; a celebration of coal miners at Donkins in Silksworth and a large-scale piece honouring the city’s industrial heritage at Panns Bank.

Now his work will be seen by even more people after he’s created an eye-catching installation at Wembley Stadium to raise awareness about mental health.

Titled One in Four, the new artwork highlights that one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year.

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Carlos Edwards mural on the A Love Supreme building from artist Frank Styles

One in Four is a collaboration between the mental health charity Mind and Wembley Park, who commissioned Frank to adorn the Spanish Steps, connecting Wembley Stadium to The SSE Arena, Wembley, with an abstract and thought-provoking artwork.

The artwork, installed prior to the lockdown, aims to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, a topic that has only increased in importance since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frank also enlisted the help of fellow Sunderland AFC fan Michael Lough to feature among a series of 12 portraits which run down the steps.

Viewed from head on, three of the portraits on each section of the stairs are visible, but the fourth can be seen only if you look over from the adjacent flight. One in Four symbolises that understanding mental health problems and how they can affect people, sometimes requires a shift in perspective.

Artist Frank Styles coal miners' mural on Donkins pub, Silksworth

The collaboration originated as part of the English Football League (EFL) and Mind’s charity partnership which aims to raise awareness about mental health problems among football fans.

Michael Lough, participant in One in Four, said: “To be featured on the Spanish Steps at the home of football is a very proud moment for me.

“One in Four really brings the statistic to life, especially in this location with the amount of people that visit Wembley Stadium. Football is a massive escape for me. Because of my mental health problems I often feel numb, but football brings out so many emotions in me – even if it is frustration!

“I have met so many people who I wouldn’t be friends with if it weren’t for football, and this has helped me talk more openly about my mental health. Too many of us think that we have to bottle up what we are feeling, so it is great to use football to encourage a conversation about mental health.

“It may feel daunting, but if you are struggling with your mental health, talk to someone about it. Be honest and open and seek the right sort of help as soon as you can.”

Frank has previously created a piece on the side of ALS building in Sheepfolds for SAFC as part of the EFL and Mind’s Goals Worth Talking About campaign for World Mental Health Day 2019.

He said: “As both a football fan and someone who is passionate about mental health advocacy, it was great to work on this commission. Although it may be some time until football fans are able to return to Wembley Stadium, I’m glad that my work is still able to send a positive message.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said, “We know that football has the power to bring about real change, not least around perceptions of mental health. That’s why we’re so grateful to Wembley Park for giving us this unique platform to reach out to people, as part of our charity partnership with the EFL.

“We’re very grateful to Michael for being part of the installation and hope that Frank’s beautiful and thought-provoking piece will raise greater awareness about the one in four of us who experiences a mental health problem each year.”

One in Four will be installed at Wembley Park’s Spanish Steps until the end of September 2020.