CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Artists offer to redo blanked Billy Fury mural in West Hampstead (as long as they are not arrested)

Council painted the wall black after mural was daubed with offensive grafitti

19 April, 2018 — By Richard Osley

How the mural looked before it was defaced and then removed

THE artists who painted the Billy Fury mural at the end of the alleyway named after the singer in West Hampstead have offered to do it again for free – after the council covered it in black paint.

Officials say they had to remove the artwork because it had been wrecked by vandals. David Speed, a director at Graffiti Life, the team which worked on the original when the pathway was renamed Billy Fury Way in 2011, said they would be happy to paint a fresh mural if they had an assurance they would not be stopped by police or council officials.

“When we did it originally, we did need to be paid for the materials and the work, but we’ve come a long way and are a very different company now,” he said. “We are very much in community payback mode. As there was such positive feedback for the Billy Fury mural, we’d be prepared to do it for free – just as long as we know we are not going to be arrested.”

Graffiti Life now receives major commissions from worldwide brands such as adidas, Nike, Sky and Diageo for artwork and brand promotions. The New Journal reported earlier this month how fans of Fury, who recorded some of his biggest hits in the former Decca Records studios based in nearby Broadhurst Gardens, had been left dismayed by the loss of the mural.

He was selected for the honour after pathways in the area were given new names to help police respond to calls to previously unidentified alleys. Mr Speed said of the mural: “It went un­touched for about five years, which for street art is really good going. You are never going to stop one idiot damaging it. Once one person does it, it can lead to others going further and tagging it. It’s not going to be a black wall for  long, if you leave it like that.”

He added that he did not support the idea of a perspex screen to protect a new mural, as sometimes is applied to artwork considered financially valuable. It could be restored without the need for whitewashing the wall and starting again every time, he said, adding: “We just need that ok from the council, that assurance,” he said.

A council spokesman said: “We fully support the landowner and artist coming to an agreement to replace the mural. We didn’t want to paint over the mural but we had no option as it had become defaced with offensive graffiti.”

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