New Exeter kindness mural vandalised with graffiti again

A huge wall in a central Exeter location prepared as a blank canvas for an inspiring new Kindness Mural has been targeted with graffiti for the second time. Even before the artwork, funded by donations from the public and supported by local businesses, has been painted on the Crossline listed building and end wall of Exeter Sewing Machine Company in Heavitree Road, it has been plagued by vandalism.

Ironically, the aim of the celebrity-endorsed mural is to inspire kindness in the city. However, in November, the words ‘beat the cost of living, grow food’ were spray painted at the bottom of the wall. The graffiti was removed when the rendering of the wall was completed and earlier this month it was painted ready for 82-year-old Exeter artist Paul Colsell to work his creative magic.

Exeter City Council has approved the project and celebrated artist, author and Oscar winner Charley Mackesy has given permission for Paul Colsell to use one of the illustrations from his book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. The mural will feature the words, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ above an illustration of a boy perched on a tree branch, and below it the words ‘kind, said the boy’.

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However, it has been confirmed the wall has been vandalised with graffiti again. Spray painted in red and green at the bottom of the mural are the words ‘grow food, screw the system’, and further up the wall more words have been written including ‘smoke more weed’.



The proposed Exeter Kindness Mural
The proposed Exeter Kindness Mural

On the Facebook page of Exeter Kindness Mural it states: “Who would be so unkind as to mess up our new wall? Especially at Christmas. Looks like we need some anti-graffiti paint. Anyone willing to save the day and contribute to the cost of this? It’s so expensive though… £456 per 5L tin.”

Paul had been due to start painting the mural next month. It is not known if or by how much the plans might be delayed by.



Exeter's new Kindness Mural has been vandalised with graffiti for a second time before the artwork is even painted
Exeter’s new Kindness Mural has been vandalised with graffiti for a second time before the artwork is even painted

The mural will be the largest Charlie Mackesy illustration to date. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is an international bestseller followed by an animated film version on BBC last Christmas and has won an Oscar.

The Kindness Mural management team hopes to have an official opening and will invite Charlie Mackesy to visit the city for the occasion.

A Crowdfunding campaign held from March through to May raised £5,381 – plus £800 in GiftAid – with 133 supporters in 69 days. It will cover the cost of essential repairs to the wall and all surplus funds will go to charity. Recipients will include the Soup Kitchen in the basement and a gift to orphans in Africa. The campaign is ongoing.



Exeter artist Paul Colsell
Exeter artist Paul Colsell

The idea for the mural came from Sue Burbage who once worked in the building. Sue realised the need for the end facade to be resurfaced due to cracks and graffiti. She thought a mural would upgrade the front entrance and Paul was happy to volunteer as he has painted several large-scale murals in his long career in art and design.

Paul has committed to bravely work at a height of 10 metres on scaffolding, despite suffering from a fear of heights. Kondanani UK, a local charity, has partnered with the Kindness Mural team to provide financial oversight for the project and GiftAid.

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