The last couple of years I have found more time to spend on the famous Strand Map mural by adding many more commissions from local small independent shops, business vans, private homes, people walking along the beach including families having a BBQ, couples and dogs, families on boats and personal memorials to loved ones that have passed at their favorite places on the map.
Imagine having yourself depicted on the map where ever you like for the next 76 years for just £50! or your home, pub, shop or business van driving around the Pompey roads for £150, you really can not get a better deal anywhere and at the same time you are also helping to fund a multi-award winning community arts organisation to carry on their good work.
Remember this is the only ever-changing mural on the planet (adding more detail) and as we have a 99-year lease of the wall! there can never be a commercial billboard defacing it.
We have just registered the mural with the Guinness World Records and at present waiting confirmation.
Due to unforeseen circumstances last year I have been able to get back to my passion of painting public art murals and as this year, which I celebrated 30 years of being a self-taught self-employed muralist and decorative artist has been my best year painting murals in all those 30 years due to a mixture of fewer responsibilities, distractions and probably getting better at my job;). All my jobs have been less than a quarter of a mile radius so walking and riding to work has been blissful and with the best summer since 1976 this year has been perfect weather for outdoor mural painting.
Ok, the exception to the rule was a visit to India early this year to paint some murals so that is a lot further to travel:)
This year has given me time to concentrate on the Strand Map mural in Southsea with the maintenance and adding more people, dogs and changing parts I was not happy with. Every time I am down there I always receive more commissions because when people talk with me and realise they too could be represented on there and maybe for over 100 years they get very excited and get booked in for the next slot.
The last few weeks I have painted a Red hat Lady, Mayville School girl, Butcher, 3 dogs and a boy Nathan playing the saxophone on the lower level, a few people on the beach or on boats in the Solent, and also people in the bottom left side window.
The Strand mural is one of the most famous murals on the south coast not just because it has already cloaked the south gable wall for 20 years but it is also the only ever-changing mural in the UK and probably the world.
I secured a 99-year lease with Southlands Housing association back in 1997 which is still legal and honored by the new owners Vivid Housing. But also I wanted this mural to last a long time so I purchased some of the best paints in the world Keim mineral-based paints that are eco-friendly and proven to last over 100 years.
Every time I walk past I have many conversations and comments from local residents or traders that people are always taking photos of it or themselves in front of the mural. This feedback really is the sign of a successful public art project from consultations stages to over 150 people being involved in workshops to the informative and interactive theme of the mural to 12 artist employed, 23 trained and all the hundreds of personal stories attached to the project.
The council ran a survey after I painted it back in the late 1990s and it concluded that local trade rose by 30% after the mural! imagine how much extra revenue that has created for local businesses and hoteliers over 23 years? well in excess of £1 million I am sure of!
And with the specialist new render, it looks set to be added to until 2096 at least! obviously, I will not be here but it is set up for the next generation of local artists to showcase their talent. My beautiful talented daughter Jesma has painted on there a couple of times and I would love to see the day she take over the mantle and even her children? I think that would be a fitting legacy.
I am hoping to receive a small grant soon from the city council to give the whole area some TLC with clean up of the stonework around the area in front, update of the index box, a new mural of trees,blue sky, plants and flowers on the side of the convenience store that will include the wooden panel above the backyard gate to the flats the mural is on. Also, re-instate a bench for older people to sit down and enjoy the detail on the mural and also add more historical figures to the lower level and more buildings to the map and ongoing maintenance.
Mark E.W. Lewis