Have you been passed the River Rea recently in Basall Heath? If so you will have seen our latest public art mural, We’re In This Together!
The mural called on the expertise of the team behind the well known ‘Welcome To Kings Heath’ mural, created back in 2013 by local talent Hoakser, who at the time teamed up with visiting Brazilian artist Ficore.
This year our commission has transformed an over-looked wall on the banks of the river Rea when Hoakser team up with Lebanese duo AshekMan.
Hoakser’s work ranges from public artworks to private commissions, which are currently held in collections in 13 countries across five continents. Most recently he was called on by Ebay to feature in a short film about his work.
Birmingham graffiti legend Zooki grew up in Balsall Heath, the site of this year’s Brum Spirit mural. He has been painting for well over 20 years, and his style is very distinctive.
For those who know their graff culture, Zooki is in FKS, NHS and INS crews to name a few.
His sharp style contrasts smooth graphic lines with old school references to graffiti’s roots, with characters straight out of a Bronx block party transposed into brightly contrasting everyday settings. Collectors can currently get a hold of his prints, T shirts and canvases at Graffiti Artist, in the heart of Digbeth’s Custard Factory.
Ashekman traveled to Birmingham from Lebanon for a flying visit to bring their well know Arabic Calligraffiti style of work to the mural.
AshekMan are identical twins and are most known for commissions for the likes of Nike, Coca Cola, MTV, and even celebrities such as Snoop Dogg have purchased pieces!
Ashekman have their featured character the Grendizer at the centre of the mural with the words ‘Peace on Earth’ in arabic, which is the 2nd most spoken language of the area.
The theme of the mural is to honour people across the world who have made Balsall Heath their home, and to celebrate what the local community have achieved together.
We were able to pull Ashekman away from the wall for a couple of minutes to get a couple of words from them:
Have you ever worked in Birmingham before?
No but we’ve visited lots of places in the UK before. We’ve been to London, Liverpool, Manchester – all over really apart from Birmingham!
What’s it like being in Birmingham? What do you think of the city so far?
People are very welcoming here, the people are very cool. We come from a city between Beirut and Dubai, and it’s a concrete jungle, but Birmingham is the opposite. It’s actually very relaxed and quiet here. We love how Birmingham culture is one big melting pot, there’s so many different religion and races all living in harmony, and that’s what it’s like in Beirut.
What’s it like working with Birmingham artists?
Very cool! Our styles are quite different – our style of art is caligrafitti, is inspired by Arabic, which we’ve been doing for 10-15 years, but Hoakser and Zooki’s art is more like old school, traditional, pure graffiti, so our work is completely different to theirs and it’s a nice contrast.
What’s the inspiration behind the mural?
The mural is inspired by the city and the people who live in it. Where we come from, we write messages on the walls – that’s our main mission to spread a positive message – so Hoakser wrote in latin “we’re in this together” and we wrote in Arabic “For peace on earth.” At home, we use the image of Grendizer, the Japanese manga superhero, who has become a “good guy icon.” It’s important to mention that lots of people might think it’s vandalism, but it’s not, it’s about spreading peace and positivity.