Caen Steet Artists

Portsmouth Twinning Projects

In July 2015, internationally-renowned French street artists and painters from Portsmouth’s twin city of Caen, Oré and Artiste-Ouvrier, exhibited work, created new artworks and worked with young people from Pompey in the Community.

This was part of an Artist Residency organised by the Kings Theatre Portsmouth’s Community Engagement Team.

Oré spent some time working on containers opposite the HMS Warrior in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. He said “As I was painting opposite the HMS Warrior I decided to paint a huge Union Jack in the background of the mural. Graphically, I love the Union Jack and it doesn’t have the nationalistic impression that some other flags have – it is about ‘union’. This seemed especially apt as the Warrior was the pride of the Royal Navy – so painting the Union Jack just made sense to me. After painting the background I incorporated my symbol which is a huge Mexican feather snake called Quetzalcóatl. I travelled to Mexico and became very interested in pre-Colombian culture and I now incorporate this image into much of my work. I ended the mural with the words of William Blake’s poem Auguries of Innocence. The Union Jack, the snake, and the Blake quote all built together into this completed mural.”

Artiste-Ouvrier used his distinctive two-layer stencilling art on the exterior of the Wedgewood Rooms on Albert Road, Southsea. He said: “Each stencil takes about 100 hours to design and cut, and I bought a whole range with me. It would have been very easy to have used my Blondie or Sid Vicious designs, but I felt that that would have been mere decoration, I wanted to do my own thing. As this year is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo I used my designs based on Christopher Walker’s Walkerloo toy soldiers; I also used stencils inspired by my love of British Victorian painters and illustrators such as Reginald Knowles, Edward Burne-Jones and John William Waterhouse.”

Geoff Priestley Manager of the Wedgewood Rooms added “It’s been wonderful having Artiste-Ouvrier here, his designs are great, and he did far more of our façade than I imagined he would. I do hope we can tempt him back next year to continue on the second tier!”

Oré also spent a day holding workshops with ten young people from Pompey in the Community, where they created a mural in a corridor in Fratton Park, home of Portsmouth Football Club. Oré said: “I was very proud to be involved with the community project as I know how important football and this club is to the City. We created stencils incorporating words ‘Play up Pompey’, the club’s logo and I reproduced a picture of the grounds. I really enjoyed my day there.”

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