Artist Rosie Woods has created a special mural in Poplar to celebrate the NHS.
We asked HARCA staff to suggest where the tribute could go, and Argyll Point on Burdett Road was chosen because the building has lots of passing traffic and footfall. We asked residents living here if they were happy with the idea, and they unanimously gave us the green light.
We spoke to Rosie about the inspiration for the beautiful artwork, and the positive response it’s had from local residents.
What inspired you to create the mural?
I felt the most enormous admiration for our NHS and key workers when the UK went into lockdown. I felt helpless at the time so this mural is my way of saying thank you to our brilliant NHS for all they have done through this pandemic. When Covid-19 is under control, I hope it will also serve as a lasting artwork of gratitude, reminding us of how lucky we are to have this service.
What inspired the design and the colours you’ve used?
The heart around the NHS logo is our loving, hugging and thankful embrace for all the good we receive from our health care system. The movement within the mural is representative of the energy and interconnectedness of all involved in the service and the colours are of course dedicated to the hue of the NHS logo.
Why Poplar, why this building?
Luckily Poplar HARCA wanted to support my mural and helped me find a space. This wall is in a great location where many people can see it daily.
Tell us about your experience when creating it, did passers by comment on it?
This mural was such a pleasure to paint. All day long I had members of the public, young and old, coming to talk to me about the art with a joyful disposition as well as many toots from cars passing by! The buses pulling in at the stop next to me gave many thumbs up. What a brilliant response to public artwork! The NHS and therefore this mural is very close to the hearts of the all UK residents right now and I was glad to have been able to contribute in a small way.
How do you hope the mural will be received?
I hope local residents will feel proud to have a dedicated NHS mural in the fabric of their daily lives and enjoy more colour in their neighbourhood. I hope NHS workers will feel proud of what they do and I hope the rest of the public will be proud of the efforts of our NHS.
Can you tell us a bit about your career and your interest in street art?
I have been painting murals and street art for the last seven years all across the world. Nothing makes me feel more alive with a sense of purpose than producing all-encompassing works of art for all to enjoy or ponder outside. There are no barriers to entry with street art, you do not have to go to an exhibition or the gallery to experience it. I believe this is one of the best aspects of the street art genre. As a painter, street art is such an intense, time restrictive way of producing. It focuses me in a way nothing else does. I love it and can’t wait to paint more and more!
Louise Yousuf, resident at Argyll Point, said: “It’s important to recognise how hard [the [NHS] work; no one realises how hard they work especially now during this difficult time. I feel privileged it’s on our building. Even my son likes it, he is 11 and normally only interested in technology and phones! He loves that it’s on our wall, there are not many things like it round there. We’re really happy our building was chosen. People are really positive about it.” Louise’s aunt was diagnosed with cancer and she is taking part in Macmillan’s Brave The Shave to support the NHS. The mural is a poignant reminder that the NHS is doing amazing work all of the time.
Lisa Lewis, Repairs Manager at Poplar HARCA who chose the location of the mural, said: “The artwork deserved a spot where as many people as possible could see and appreciate it. Argyll Point on the busy Burdett Road was the perfect blank canvas for it to stand out and pay tribute to the heroes of the NHS.”
A big thank you to Rosie for creating this distinctive momentum for the Tower Hamlets community, and to all of the NHS and key workers who have provided invaluable services during this challenging time.