Artist’s war game

Days after appearing on wall, ‘obscure’ red text is added to anti-war mural

Friday, 22nd July — By Dara Coker

Putin 03-Artwork 1

Jemima Taylor in front of the graffiti: ‘Someone is trying to be clever’

IT had been taken to be a powerful message about the futility of war with Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine reduced to a game of paper–scissors-stone.

But a piece of street art in Liverpool Road was hardly up for a matter of days before someone came along with a red spray paint can of their own.

Now, Loretto’s mural of Putin seemingly losing the kids’ game to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has been accompanied by scrawling text signed off only by ‘QM’.

Loretto has left a series of satirical pieces of street art across London for the last ten years – including former prime minister Theresa May depicted as Mother Teresa with a halo that resembled the EU flag.

In neighbouring Camden, authorities forced the removal of Loretto’s image of Sadiq Khan moon­lighting as a male stripper and the Queen lifting up her skirt.

The Putin vs Zelensky stencil has also appeared on a wall in Kentish Town.

How the artwork is supposed to look

In Liverpool Road one passer-by, Oscar Esceirbino, said: “I was a bit confused by the red writing. I think it’s a bit of a shame.

“It’s not very nice that someone did that but it’s on the streets. It’s an easy target.”

Outreach worker Dave Brazier, who lives nearby, said it had been unfair that someone’s artwork had been altered.

“I don’t like it. Just leave it, everyone is entitled to their opinions but why not put it on the next wall instead of spoiling the artwork?” he said.

“The only trouble with it is it could cause an accident, I’ve seen it before when people slow down to take photos. That’s the only issue.”

Esther Wallace, who lives near Liverpool Road, said that all political artwork asks people to add their own interpretations.

“I think that if you’re going to put up something quite provocative like that, people are going to add to it,” she said.

“If you paint something in a public place that is graffiti anyway, then it’s inviting a response.”

Another nearby resident, student Jemima Taylor, said the message of Loretto’s original artwork is crystal clear, so undermining it with something more obscure was not helpful.

“It’s a shame though, I feel like it’s someone trying to be clever but if it is clever, it’s too clever for me,” she added.

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