The annual Sand, Sea and Spray event might have been cancelled this year, but there was certainly no absence of paint, in all its forms, when the 2 Old Birds hotfooted it straight from the Gay Pride Parade down to Palatine Road car park on Saturday afternoon. What met us was a hive of creative activity, as artists worked steadily on the walls surrounding the area. The variety of work being created was a credit to the group, from a whole wall of carefully written thoughts from Samantha Jayne Simpson to a huge, rather scary blue baby by Chris Fenn.
This was no hastily sprayed random graffiti event. Each piece was being lovingly and meticulously crafted by its creator, with nothing left to chance. Empty paint cans, in every hue, lay abandoned, glinting in the sun; the music blared from a centrally placed deck; somebody skateboarded deftly by and the artists, heads down, worked on. The place was buzzing with an energy, the like of which had probably not been seen since the days boy racers tore around the car park. There was banter and laughter and a few treats being shared. Passers by peered curiously around walls, or wandered in and stared admiringly at the walls, as the old bricks magically took on life. Friends gathered to give support and lighthearted criticism, and there was an air of genuine bonhomie between like-minded people, doing what they know they do best.
David Healy (aka Infected by Design) told us that, in the absence of Sand, Sea and Spray in 2014, he and his fellow artists, He Dreamt Mars, Lowdown and Catch 22 had decided to instigate their own, albeit smaller scale, event. David had gained permission from Howard, the owner of the car park, to go ahead with the street art, and immediately other artists were invited along.
The H2i Crew had travelled from Sheffield that morning: Pawski, who created a black and white hot lipped lady in one corner; Mars, the expert typographer, whose own name was painted in bold 3D lettering, two metres high; and their designated driver, painter of base coats and all round funny man, John Walker. Further along the wall, Trik was expertly spray painting a stylized Brazilian lady, while Dom Carlysle’s colourful wall, covered in peace signs, a tribute, apparently to the musician, Guru, provided a welcome contrast.
David Healy presented a large, colourful, creature, which grinned maniacally from the far corner, whilst He Dreamt Mars stayed faithful to his name and painted planets in bright baby pink that floated majestically up towards the sky. Will Bentham’s iconic portraits are becoming more well known, and the one he painted on the wall last weekend was as good as any he has done in the past. Rhianna’s work was more in the fine art tradition, as a portrait of an elderly lady began to take shape opposite Mos Shaw’s cartoonish clocks. Catch 22 and Jay Sharples from Manchester worked collaboratively on several pieces; Raki’s contribution, with seemingly random white shapes on a bright blue background, had a feel of naïve art, with the result being surprisingly effective.
Dawn and I spent a happy hour, soaking up the atmosphere, chatting to the artists and shooting images. We came away knowing that we had witnessed something new, something quite innovative, and with an overwhelming feeling that the ‘boys done good’.
Let’s hope this is just the first of many such collaborative events, brightening up some of the duller parts of Blackpool and putting it back on the map, not just for its famous Tower and infamous stag and hen weekends, but for some alternative art and culture. And that it certainly was.
If you wish to visit the car park – and I would certainly recommend it – you will find it at the back of Barrett’s Timber Yard on Central Drive – take your sunglasses.
Images courtesy of Two Old Birds With Cameras.
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