The York BID have collaborated with Art of Protest Projects to create a Street Art Exhibition celebrating keyworkers from York. The aim of this project is 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’ range from NHS workers to the River Boat Rescue team. The images have been 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’ will be the city’s first urban art project which will elevate and honour pandemic key workers. They will be displayed on walls around the city centre during a temporary three month installation that invites the public to celebrate the efforts of our key workers during the pandemic. The artwork will be available to view from 9th April – 9th July 2021 to coincide with the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions and the reopening of many of the city’s businesses.
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.”
About the artist
The Postman was born in 2018, when two people met by chance and discovered a shared love for street art. These artists work anonymously. The work is inspired by their passion for photography and iconic imagery. A love for music and pop culture manifests itself in their artworks. The Postman’s unique style also takes influence from their roots in graffiti culture. Many of their artworks live exclusively on the streets and are never available for purchase. The unique way in which these artists exhibit their works onto city walls is through paper based artworks. Wheat paste allows the pieces to be applied.
This impermanent form of art fades and washes away over time. This creates a buzz as people seek them out before they disappear. Their style of street art aims to entertain and cheer up the public. It’s positive and inclusive nature allows people from diverse communities to see themselves represented and heard. Since gaining popularity, the collective now devotes a large proportion of its time to passion projects which benefit charities close to their hearts.