See time lapse video of striking mural celebrating Sunderland + win T-shirts

A new mural celebrating Sunderland has been created by a city artist at Roker End Cafe.

Sunday, 4th July 2021, 4:55 am

Inspired by her home city’s skyline and landmark buildings, Kathryn Robertson’s distinctive murals can be seen across Wearside, at locations such as the Elephant Tea Rooms, The Little Shop and at the new Vaux Taproom.

Now she’s used her skills to create a piece at the Roker End Cafe, within the ALS building in Sheepfolds Industrial Estate, which has also been replicated on T-shirts being sold from the store.

Kathryn uses an acrylic paint pen to create each of her works, with no two being the same.

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The new mural at Roker End Cafe

She explained: “I don’t plan the murals, I just try and use as many local landmarks as possible so that each one is unique. Elephant Tea Rooms is one of my favourite buildings in the city as it’s so different and ornate, so I often include that, but I’ve started including newer structures such as the Northern Spire too.”

As well as murals, Kathryn produces prints, tea towels and tote bags of her designs, which are sold at places such as the Museum and Winter Gardens shop.

At the beginning of the first Lockdown she released a Sunderland print which raised £4,500 for Sunderland Foodbanks.

Although the creative industries have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, Kathryn says there’s definitely been a surge of interest in artworks celebrating people’s local areas.

Artist Kathryn Robertson with her latest Mural in the Roker End Cafe. Picture by FRANK REID

She said: “It’s mint when you see someone carrying a bag with one of your designs on. I love seeing where the online orders come from too and all the different parts of the country where people have the prints.”

Martyn McFadden from ALS says they too have noticed an increased appetite for Sunderland products.

He said: “People definitely want to support their local businesses, local products and local artists. We used to just sell football merchandise, but there’s an increase in interest for Sunderland heritage items, people are definitely appreciating their home cities more because of the pandemic.

"We already have artworks on the outside of the shop from Frank Styles and wanted to do something inside and Kathryn’s work is the perfect fit.”

Mural in the Roker End Cafe. Created by artist Kathryn Robertson. Picture by FRANK REID

Merchandise printing business Merch Bitch occupies the first floor of the ALS building and has had huge success producing merchandise, and running merchandise operations, for big music names such as Sam Fender, Charlie XCX and Catfish & the Bottlemen, as well as a whole host of North East artists and businesses.

Owner Joe McFadden has produced a series of screen-printed grey t-shirts featuring Kathryn’s print, which are for sale priced £20 in the ALS shop and online at


We have two t-shirts to give away in a size of your choice.

Screen printer Joe McFadden. Picture by FRANK REID

To be in with a chance of winning one, answer this question: what is the name of the cafe housed within the ALS building?

A:: Fulwell End Cafe

B:: Roker End Cafe

C:: Clock Stand Cafe

Email your answer, name, address and choice of t-shirt size, ranging from small to xxl, to [email protected] by Monday, July 12.

Usual JPI Media competition rules apply.

We have two t-shirts to give away

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Screen printer Joe McFadden. Picture by FRANK REID