I’m just going to start this blog post with a huge “thank you” to Pilkington Charities Fund for donating to NYAS so this project could go ahead. And that’s not just from me, it’s also from the young people whose lives you have helped enrich with these activities.
Let me introduce myself. My name is David Andrews, a street artist based in Liverpool. A majority of my work is spraypainting murals in shops, offices and restaurants, and teaching young adults the basics as well.
I know… It’s a great job!
Back in July last year, I received an email from Lucy Byrne at dot-art, who represents myself and other local artists, saying that she had an opportunity to work with NYAS on a pilot project around the theme of growing up in care. At the time, I was just finishing off a project with a group of young adults from a disability charity so I was looking forward to carrying on in a different area.
I was made up when I received an email a few months later saying that after a selection process consulting the young people they had chosen to work with me and a sculptor Faith Bebbington.
After a couple of meetings and a fair few emails, I turned up on the Saturday really looking forward to the weekend and the staff there were extremely welcoming. As the young people I was working with started to come in, I could see that they were as excited as I was! We had a quick introduction with a rough idea of the schedule, I talked to them about my work, how legal street art commissions were different to graffiti ‘tagging’, then threw some ideas around about what kind of work we’d like to create.
We sketched up a few ideas before lunch and I was really impressed with how it was coming together. There were poems and emotions, eyes and brains! After lunch we started to draw these designs up onto sheets of cardboard to make the stencils, we even had a machine which cuts words and letters out of card for the poems. Most of the work was finished by the end of the day before we had a feedback session about how everyone thought the day had gone. I was pretty relieved that everyone had a great time so far and the best was yet to come. That night I put the finishing touches to a couple of the stencils, collected all my paint and protective equipment together ready for day 2.
We couldn’t have hoped for nicer weather on the Sunday. We had booked out a space at Zap Graffiti, a workshop space in Liverpool and it was great to be able to work outside all day.
We started, like all the best days start, with a coffee and planning where we were going to have lunch! After the young people picked out their colours to paint with from the venue, I gave an introduction with how spraypaint ‘handles’; how far away to hold the can, how to get the best coverage, how quickly it comes out of the can and how to mix the colours if they needed to. Everyone managed to paint the backgrounds of their boards before lunch, some going for a shiny chrome finish and others being adventurous blending and fading colours. It was nice to see the staff getting involved in the process as well.
As most of the designs had a couple of layers and elements, we started to build the designs up on the wooden boards, waiting for each part to dry before painting over it until everyone was happy with what they had produced.
I had a great time teaching the young people that NYAS supports, and was really impressed with their creativity, attention and effort that they put in. I also received a very touching email from the Operations Manager saying:
“Thank you for your expertise, patience and kindness over the two days. You were an absolute pleasure to work with and the young people demonstrated a real respect for you, based on your sensitivity.”
I’m looking forward to my next session with a group of young people in North Wales and keeping my fingers crossed that this is a long lasting project which will lead to ongoing engagement projects and workshops across the country.
Here are some pictures from a group of young people at Undegun in Wrexham