Picture of the Month: March 2022

ANOTHER month of bloodshed in Ukraine, and another month in which street artists around the world have coloured cities yellow and blue in their pleas for peace.

From Berlin to Warsaw, Rome to Buenos Aires, urban artists sent their own messages of solidarity to a country under siege with an array of heartbreaking images.

Like the Cardiff mural by Mydogsighs highlighted last month, many of the works gained a viral following on social media, from Seth Globepainter‘s Paris mural of a little girl crushing tanks under her feet to portraits ridiculing Putin or Berlin-based street artist Eme Freethinker‘s picture of two children — one Ukrainian and one Russian — embracing each other in a declaration of solidarity and peace.

Many were also used to raise funds, as well as sending messages of support to Ukrainians that their agony was shared by millions of ordinary people around the world.

Can street art speak louder than bombs? If anyone would appreciate the impromptu galleries, it’s the people of a country whose capital became a showcase of huge murals in the wake of the Euromaidan protests of 2013.

The current offerings may not be on quite such a grand scale as those covering many storeys of the Soviet-era apartment blocks in Kyiv, but the messages they send are just as attention-grabbing.

Ukraine’s suffering may be continuing, but like the blue and yellow flags fluttering outside so many homes around the world, the street art spells out to Ukrainians that their struggle has not been forgotten.

Picture of the Month: February 2022

IT WAS a month that started like any other, with the prospect of war in Europe unthinkable.

NO WORDS: the attention-grabbing Cardiff mural by Portsmouth street artist My Dog Sighs

Yet just weeks later, Russian tanks were rolling into cities across Ukraine and millions of families were on the move, fleeing the advance of Putin’s war machine.

And if any one image could sum up the unfolding tragedy, it was a striking work by Portsmouth street artist My Dog Sighs, aka Paul Stone.

It may have been hidden down a back alley in Cardiff, but the “No words” mural featuring the colours of the Ukraine flag and its capital Kyiv rapidly captured attention around the world when it appeared on his Twitter feed on March 1.

A fortnight later and fine art giclee prints of the mural went on sale for £100 each through 3030print, with all profits going to the Disasters Energency Committee Ukraine appeal.

The prolific artist from Portsmouth originally trained as a primary school teacher but turned to street art when he was 30 and has since had commissions (and sell-out exhibitions) around the world, from America to China.

Known for using a vast array of reclaimed materials, including oil drums, bottle caps and tin cans, Paul started out by making works of art at home and leaving them on the streets once a month as part of his home city’s Free Art Friday project.

Many immediately recognise his giant paintings of eyes, which feature pictures in the pupils. “I see eyes as windows into the soul,” he says. “I hide stories inside the eyes and leave it up to people to decide what they can see and what the stories represent – dreams, wishes, wants.”

His Cardiff mural is just one example of dozens of striking and heartbreaking street art images which have sprung up all over the world in response to the crisis.

Another Welsh offering comes from Jenks, an artist in Llanelli who acknowledged that while Ukrainians were unlikely ever to have heard of his hometown, he hoped his Pray for Ukraine piece would help them not to feel isolated, and “know people are on their side during this terrible time for them”.

SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: Pray for Ukraine by Jenks in Llanelli