Photo and Film by Peter Ritson | @peterritsonphotography
It’s not everyday that a city wall can actively be a fight against urban pollution, but the new mural on Wharf Chambers, supported by the Yorkshire Design Group aims to do just that.
Globally recognized artist, INSA, returns to his home city of Leeds to produce his first large scale artwork in the city centre after originally starting his graffiti and art career over 20 years ago. The artist brings with him a positive message and vibrancy of color that is much welcomed in the dark days of a Northern winter. Reaching 13 meters high and 11 meters wide, the artwork features a rainbow sunset gradient across the background with bold line work that hopes to communicate the need for all of us to protect our precious mother earth. The image reflecting an interconnected human effort to protect and nurture the future generations and the planet. Not only is the work visually impressive and brings some much needed color to the city centre, but its message is a powerful one.
“ For this Mural, it was time my pattern grew up, removed its heels and breathed! I wanted the work to be embracing itself, nurturing its own future as the paint on the wall does its job breathing in the CO2 around it…” - Artist, INSA
INSA and curator Tina Ziegler, Director of Moniker Art Fair have set out to document if it was possible to create a carbon conscious and waste aware mural even in the most challenging of times. To do so, they asked themselves if they could successfully cut down on the overall emissions, reduce waste and be conscious about every element of the mural to see if they could minimize the negative impact on the planet. The ‘living and breathing’ mural is painted using Graphenstone Biosphere paint, the worlds most certified green brand. Due to their natural and ecological composition, the raw materials used to manufacture Graphenstone paints are not only free of toxic components but also help in the reduction of air pollution. In this way, healthier indoor and outdoor spaces are achieved. CO2 Absorption Declaration Study proves that Graphenstone’s lime-based paints absorb CO2 from the environment during their carbonation process. The mural will actively absorb the same amount of CO2 as an adult tree in just three years.
Trash documented over 5 days
“Its not about perfection, but about intention. A step by step approach to positive change.” - Curator, Tina Ziegler
Not only is the mural essentially more sustainable from a production point of view, but analyzing the lifestyle around the project, the artist took careful consideration to change his habits and plan ahead, shop local, buy organic, eat no meat, and try to live with minimal waste. Where they found it impossible, they have offset those emissions by using a carbon calculator with World Land Trust and have donated back to protecting vital eco-systems around the world.
“We are so happy to have been able to come together with Moniker, INSA and Leeds BID to bring a new piece of artwork to the streetscape of Leeds. Not only does the resulting mural have huge impact and sets this little corner of the Calls/Waterfront area alive, but it breaks new ground in the aim to be a carbon conscious and zero waste production – something we all need to be doing. It’s stunning too and has generated tons of interest and positive feedback already – we couldn’t be more pleased!” - Paul Ellison, Yorkshire Design Group
The experiment shows us just how much of an impact we can have when we consider every step of a project, from curation to execution and makes us question why not all street art is created this way.
About the artist, INSA:
15 years of Graffiti Fetish
In 2004 INSA rejected the traditional graffiti letters and style that had raised him and began painting and posting the now instantly recognizable bright pink High Heel shoe everywhere he travelled. The gender ambiguity of the design was a deliberate contrast to the macho world of graffiti, and precipitated INSA’s work into a more interesting and inclusive place.
The heels soon grew and morphed into a free flowing pattern of legs and feminine lines able to wrap whole buildings, playing with the idea of ownership and fetishism for the surface or object that was engulfed in the soon-to-be ubiquitous design. Appearing on buildings around the world from whole city blocks in LA to shacks in Africa, it was painted everywhere: on the beaches in Rio to the interiors of elite restaurants in Shanghai.
‘Graffiti Fetish’. went on to cover such coveted items as luxury cars, designer shoes. It became collected as prints and clothing and appeared in museum collections and galleries across the globe.
INSA’s visual motifs confronted the fetishization of products in modern society and the paradoxical nature of his work questioned both his own position as an artist in a consumerist world, and collective ideals in our society. This has made for a varifocal gaze - enjoyed by multiple types of viewer, in many different contexts; from the conventional gallery/retail space or the connoisseur collector to the streets of inner city neighborhoods.
As with any artist, INSA has always moved on to new things, and since the rise of ‘Graffiti Fetish’, INSA has gone on to create a whole new genre of Art, ‘GIF-ITI’, to break world records, to create work visible from space, to explore new avenues of AR and VR, and to constantly push boundaries of how his artwork comes into being....