Manchester artists send message of defiance and hope with poignant street art 5 years ago

Manchester artists send message of defiance and hope with poignant street art

'We just wanted to do something to try and put a smile on people's faces'

Manchester's response to Monday's devastating terrorist attack has inspired people across the world.

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The defiance and courage shown throughout the city was perhaps best encapsulated by Tony Walsh's stunning poem delivered at Tuesday's vigil.

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But the response has taken many forms, including in the city's street art. Jay Sharples is one of the artists involved in Out House, an outdoor project space for street art in Manchester's northern quarter.

Like so many others he had family at the Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena on Monday night. He was one of the fortunate ones.

But he felt galvanised to gather together a collective of artists to transform Manchester's Stevenson's Square with a series of vibrant, joyous and defiant street art.

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"I felt useless sitting at home, I can't protect my family from people who go out and do these weird things," he tells JOE.

"So I was thinking 'what could we do?' Channel 4 News gave us a shout out on Tuesday's night about street art being a prominent part of Manchester and part of what makes Manchester great. So I picked up the phone to a few local artists  and everyone was up for coming down and giving it a bit of a makeover.

"It was more of a solidarity kind of thing and to try and put a smile on people's faces. The response we got on Thursday was unbelievable. Obviously, a lot of people were down at St Ann's Square for the minute's silence and the majority of them walked past here on the way back to Piccadilly.

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"The response was amazing - strangers bringing us ice lollies and suncream and bottles of water. Everyone was stopping for photo. Everyone's been really positive - we've done our little bit for the city and cheered people up in dark times.

"This is what Manchester always does. We always pull together in tough times. We had the IRA bombing in the past. It's the northern way, the Mancunian way. We just get on with things and come together.

"It's not about us, it's not about the artists. It's just about trying to do something for the city."

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