Love Your Space

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Last September, I had the honour of painting a mural for the St Mungo's charity. The brief was to revive a rather unloved space at the side of the property with a mural, providing a vibrant, optimistic yet sensitively designed backdrop to a new garden area that had been designated for residents only.

After consulting with staff and residents, I developed a concept based around dandelions and ferns. You can read more about the plant symbolism here. Here are a couple of responses to the theme:

I like that the dandelion means strength. I can see it from my window and it makes me smile.
— MW, St Mungo's resident
I’ve worked here for 6 years and it’s such a special place; it’s so incredible now to have a work of art that shows just how special it is. I love the symbolism and the message about strength, thriving in difficult environments and healing. It sums up our residents and their journey so perfectly.
— St Mungo's staff

I painted this mural over a series of sunny weekends with close oversight by the residents, which was an extraordinarily humbling experience; I will never forget the time spent with them, each in the midst of their own journey to recovery from serious drink or drug abuse and longterm homelessness. I remember being struck by their strength and resilience, as well as their sense of humour, and feeling privileged to hear these stories and receive their trust in creating a work of art that might speak to their collective narratives.

Two of my personal favourite elements of the mural were added near the very end of the project:

  1. The 12 ‘wish’ seeds, one for each resident, blowing in the wind

  2. The title ‘Love your space’ which was proudly added by one resident (who we will call TR) to the very front of the mural. It so brilliantly sums up the intention behind this commission and the importance of having a space to call your own.

TR has always enjoyed drawing and I hope that this experience will encourage her to continue to practice. She’s also a great photographer and has given me permission to share some of her photos of us all enjoying the mural on the last day of painting. Thank you for having me, St Mungo’s!

It’s going to look great in the winter. You can come down there and you’d think the sun was shining.
— WT, St Mungo's resident
People will take the time to look and it will lift their spirits, it’s like art therapy.
— TR, St Mungo's resident