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Bristol mural that ‘transformed’ a troubled corner of city set to see change

By Conor Gogarty 

Chief reporter for Bristol Evening Post – Below is a story featured on Bristol LIVE (link below)
  • 12:00, 21 AUG 2021
  • UPDATED08:53, 22 AUG 2021

‘An “iconic” mural which “transformed” a troubled Stokes Croft corner is set for changes when the artist returns to Bristol.

Colombian street artist Stinkfish painted ‘Yellow Face Lady’ in 2012 on the corner of City Road and Stokes Croft, at the site where vegan restaurant Om Burger now trades.

Ashley Down filmmaker Vince John, who helped bring about the original painting, says it will get “a bit of a remix” next month when Stinkfish flies back to Bristol from his home city Bogota.

Vince, who owns pop-up gallery 1LOVEART, is helping to organise the trip, which will see Stinkfish restore the “tired” artwork, add more colour and “update it with his latest style”.

He will paint on the weekend of September 25 and 26, in a community event with food and music — but funds need to be raised to fly the artist to Bristol.

Vince, has launched a raffle to finance Stinkfish’s return. Some 200 tickets are being sold for £10 each, with the chance to win another of the artist’s works.

The story behind the mural

Yellow Face Lady was originally intended as a temporary measure to help clean up the corner, which was often littered with drug paraphernalia and the odd abandoned mattress, says Vince.

He believes the perception of the spot changed one sunny day in June 2012, when Stinkfish painted the mural to promote an art show taking place in The Canteen. Vince had invited Stinkfish to spend some time in Bristol while the artist was visiting London.

“It’s an iconic mural,” said Vince. “When we put it up, it was a by-the-seat-of-our-pants job. We didn’t have much time, so we didn’t have a chance to do as much colour as we would have liked.”

The reason Stinkfish needed to work quickly was he did not have permission to do the painting. There was “loose” permission from the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft group, but none from Bristol City Council.

“The council were a bit surprised when they first saw it, but because the community loved it, they had to let it stay,” Vince said.

“The corner had been full of needles and mattresses for months, and it really changed the vibe of the area. It really did connect with people right from the beginning.

“With a little bit of help from some locals, it had been transformed in one day into the landmark we all know and love. A lot of people said to me when we put it up, ‘Is she a freedom fighter?’ People saw a freedom fighter in that girl’s face.”

‘A hopeful message’

Was a real person the inspiration behind the art? “Stinkfish tends to take pictures of people he meets on his travels who touch him in some way,” Vince said. “This a girl he met, a normal girl, but what people see in the piece is a very humane message, a hopeful message.”

Vince described the piece as “something of a local landmark”, often featured on magazine covers and as a background for TV interviews. The site is now home to Om Burger, whose outdoor seating area occupies the corner beneath the mural.

“In recent years the mural has been looking a bit tired and crying out for restoration,” Vince added. “We had several queries from locals and Om Burger about restoring it.”

Om Burger will work with 1LOVEART to put on “a weekend of food, music and painting” on September 25 and 26.

The Stinkfish piece being raffled to fund his trip is a version of a mural he painted when he visited Bristol in 2014 — “Taj Mahal Girl” in Mina Road, St Werburgh’s.

Taj Mahal Girl depicts an Indian woman in a similarly colourful style to the Stokes Croft piece. Vince says the one in the raffle is a “smaller and more intimate” version, painted on a reclaimed wooden door, also in 2014.

He says the piece is conservatively valued between £2,000 to £3,000. There are 200 raffle tickets priced at £10 each and you can buy one here.

The Raffle ended on 30th August 2021.  We raised £1100, enough money to cover STINK’s flights from Columbia to the UK, what an incredible thing, thank you to all who bought a ticket!

Read Story on BRISTOL POST


Conor Gogarty Chief reporter
  • 12:00, 21 AUG 2021
  • UPDATED08:53, 22 AUG 2021

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