Lewisham art company on a mission to raise enough funds to teach locals the art of muralism

Lewisham bridge mural pic: Claudia Rivas

For Patricio Forrester, painting murals is all about providing “colour in places of adversity ”. This is how the local artist and founder of Artmongers UK came to set up his latest project in Lewisham. His aims will be directed to teaching 36 locals the art of mural-making over a period of 10 weeks.

Their main objective says Forrester will be to bring light, colour, and character to South London’s tired-looking streets. 

The scheme dubbed the Lewisham school of Muralism has partnered up with Space Hub, an online crowdfunding platform to raise £64,560 towards their expected goal. Artmongers has already seen £29,334 worth of pledges being donated over the last couple of months. The project is hoping to further raise the remaining amount of funds by May 5 2020. 

Already well known in the area, some of Forrester’s work has included the Marquis of Granby mural, the Lewisham bridge mural, and the whimsically designed recycling cow bins spotted grazing on St James street. 

Forrester now wishes to pass on his skills and knowledge to other budding artists, whom he says have shown a great interest in the process of mural-making, adding:

“The school of muralism is really a response to something that became part of the conversation when you create street art, you tend to generate a discussion with the public, and so as part of that engagement people either brought ideas to me or asked me how they could create their own murals.”

Originally from Argentina, Forrester started making murals back in his home town of Buenos Aires. In 1995 he moved to the UK to pursue a career in art. Since then his work and murals have been enjoyed by many locals within the Lewisham and New cross area. 

Artmongers was the first organisation Forrester set up. He now has over a dozen interesting pieces of art scattered across multiple unsuspecting street corners, within south London.

His main focuses have been directed on improving public spaces whilst providing unbeknownst communities the pleasure of owning beautifully designed murals at no expense of their own.

He said the process of street art was appealing and “outside the context of more traditional art.” And added: “Murals bring unorthodox methods to the forefront. This is what enticed me into creating publicly owned art.” 

Marquis Of Granby pic: Claudia Rivas

As for the school of muralism, the processes of creating, designing, and engaging a sense of camaraderie was a crucial skill Forrester said he wanted to incorporate during the 10 weeks of training. 

“Passing skills to the younger generation is vital in helping people learn and develop their own narratives. I knew I had to create a structure to support young people and transfer the skills I had learnt through my 20 years of experience” 

The funds that have been collected over the past couple of months will, if successful, be put towards equipment the students will need to create these 6 stunning murals. Some of this equipment will include a water pressure gun, tower, and van for transportation needs. 

Cow bins on St James street pic: Claudia Rivas

Artmongers have not limited their organisation to London, they have also spent the last five years travelling to Syrian refugee camps providing similar participatory schemes, that have combined a range of creative activities set out to help small neighbouring communities in Lebonan.

Forrester says he now wants to include musicians and health care assistants to his team for this year’s next trip in July. 

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London has already pledged 50% of the capital costs if according to Forrester he sees 300 pledges coming in through the local community. Further pledges are being drawn in from across South London, with 2,152 people already backing the cause due to start this summer. 

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