‘Barksy’ transforms Merseyside town with adorable pup street art
A town in the Wirral has been hit by street graffiti of the most adorable kind thanks to a chance discovery by a local artist.
Jonny Benson, 29, a local artist based in Wallasey, has begun a new project to immortalise people’s beloved pups on the street walls of New Brighton. With the support of Rockpoint Records, a multifaceted record shop on Victoria Road where he has a studio, Jonny has begun painting the dogs using stencil techniques usually associated with artists such as Banksy.
Jonny, who also helps curate and manage Oakland Gallery just down the road from his studio, had the idea for the project when struggling with a painting of a family pet commissioned by a friend of the gallery. His usual techniques weren’t fitting the bill as he tends to work with oil paints in a process that involves hours of literally watching paint dry before reapplying, with minimum room for error.
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So Jonny decided to test out the stencil techniques he developed whilst working with his street artist friends, which involve creating stencils, or cut-outs, of basic shapes before layering them together to create the desired image. In a moment of inspiration he created the client’s pet using these stencils and found that it worked far, far better than expected.
Jonny said: “At first I was just making the stencils. My only thought was to make them on paper or canvas then putting them into the gallery.
” But I was really happy the way they came out on paper and because I was so happy with them I ran down from the top floor and showed Dan [Daniel Davies, who runs Rockpoint Leisure CIC who own Rockpoint Records]. I think he saw a similarity with his dog Archie and so he said I should do them outside.
“So within five minutes of me finishing the first piece on paper I ran outside and, even though it was slightly wet, I just did the same process on the wall just outside the gallery. And it just worked really well.
“A lot of people had their attention drawn to it and then by the time we’d finished the second stencil the following day there was a tour going on and and it became like a live audience of people watching me do this second stencil.
“[When they were finished] I just thought this is the start of what could really be a playful and sweet way of immortalising people’s dogs. New Brighton definitely has an affinity with dogs and we’ve got this new Guide Dogs for the Blind in the area as well, so there’s a lot of dog crazy people in New Brighton, including myself.”
Though the project hasn’t yet fully taken off, the reaction from the local community has been fantastic. Jonny says that he and Rockpoint have been ‘inundated’ with requests from people living in the area to have their beloved pets immortalised on the walls they walk past daily.
He says it is also a great way to contribute to the regeneration of New Brighton and Victoria Road that is being spearheaded by Rockpoint. Jonny added: “The street art in New Brighton hasn’t slowed down as such, but we haven’t had a big mural or anything in a while so this something different. And I think the nature of the life size paintings will be quite fun and engaging for the dog walkers and kids.”