Street art is a striking and effective way to improve the appearance of the city centre. We seek to support city centre street art projects when they match our manifesto commitment to enhance the appearance of York city centre.
The Guardians of York
During Q2 2021 the York BID collaborated with Art of Protest Projects to create a Street Art Exhibition celebrating keyworkers from York. The aim of this project was to celebrate the ‘guardians’ of the city, who helped keep York moving during a time when the city (and the world) came to a standstill during Covid-19.
Eleven essential workers, all of them York residents, told their story of working through the upheaval created by the pandemic and had their photographs taken. These ‘guardians’ ranged from NHS workers to the River Boat Rescue team. The images were transformed into art by internationally acclaimed street artist collective ‘The Postman’. The collective chooses ‘paste-ups’ as their medium of urban art and express themselves in the form of brightly coloured, edgy, urban portraits.
The ‘Guardians of York’ was the city’s first urban art project to elevate and honour pandemic key workers. They were displayed on walls around the city centre during a temporary three month installation that invited the public to celebrate the efforts of our key workers during the pandemic.
Jeff Clark, director of Art of Protest Projects said “Helping people to realise the difference which urban art can make to a town or city, through its presence in York, has been something we’ve been working towards for a long time. To be able to do it with such outstanding artists like The Postman, as well as our homegrown heroes, was beyond anything I could have imagined when we first set out.”
Andrew Lowson of The York Bid said “The BID has supported a couple of street art projects in the city over the past few years and its new five-year business plan outlines how it would like to provide more support in this area. The Guardians of York is an apt project to kick off reopening in 2021, as it will add a splash of colour to the city, whilst reminding the public of those local heroes who have worked hard to keep us all safe.”
The Postman said, “As the project builds momentum, we realise more and more how important it is to tell the stories of the people behind the masks. The key workers that have carried us through the last year, inspired us and made a difference to everybody’s lives.”
Participant Brenna Allsuch (NHS worker) said, “Telling my story in such a real and raw way has helped me to understand the weight of this year, and to reflect on all the highs and lows. Beyond that, it’s made me feel like I’m part of a community, a collective of people that have not stopped going.”
Resident Suzie Fox said “It’s amazing what these guys are doing, honouring the city’s workers that kept going to their jobs, despite the risks to them and their families. Making everyday people feel like the superheroes that they became.”
This street art collaboration brightened up what was a drab alleyway on Coney Street, close to Boots and WHSmith.
We worked with York gallery The Art of Protest on the project. They brought in artists Craig Evans and Tom Jackson, who work together under the name STATIC, and they created this stunning work in three days.
It has turned a city centre eyesore into an Instagram hotspot.
The Tansy Beetle
Our second street art venture was the giant Tansy Beetle mural on Queen Street. York BID contributed to the project as part of their remit to keep the city centre vibrant and interesting.
Andrew Lowson, Executive Director said, ‘York BID was very happy to support in funding this project, as our business plan has an objective to enhance street art in the city. When we heard about the tansy beetle mural, we knew it fitted the criteria of what the BID is trying to achieve in adding a splash of colour to the city.
What makes this artwork particularly interesting is its focus on a species that is unique to York. It is something that will raise awareness; something we can celebrate and has an important environmental message behind it. We are delighted with the finished mural and have heard lots of positive feedback’
The mural was completed by street artist ATM, and celebrates the tansy beetle which is a local conservation success story.