Billboard art project sparks conversations on racism

A poster made by Jahnavi Inniss highlights important names in Black British History on Clapham High Street. 

A poster made by Jahnavi Inniss highlights important names in Black British History on Clapham High Street. - Credit: Black Outdoor Art

A Hackney graphic designer is using art to highlight and spark conversations about racism.

Graphic designer Greg Bunbury has collaborated with outdoor media agency Brotherhood Media on the Black Outdoor Art initiative.

The project involves plastering original art by Black artists on billboards across Hackney and the rest of the capital.

Greg says the project "effectively" started the week of George Floyd’s killing in the US. He added: "When the story hit the mainstream press here in the UK, and the whole country saw the rise of Black Lives Matter, brands and companies started to react.”

After discussing the possibility of collaborating with Brotherhood Media, Greg hoped to "create a space for more discussion, more honest reflection, and more interaction", to "contribute to a shifting of attitudes”.

The first poster in the project was a piece called I Can’t Breathe, designed by Greg, which connected two victims of racially provoked police violence - George Floyd and Eric Garner - highlighting the reported last words of both men. 

A poster, created by Greg Banbury, displays the reported last words of George Floyd and Eric Garner in Hackney.

A poster, created by Greg Banbury, displays the reported last words of George Floyd and Eric Garner in Hackney. - Credit: Black Outdoor Art


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Greg explained: “That poster went up on billboards across London and overnight the response was overwhelming.

“We decided to continue the idea as a wider campaign, using donated billboard space from [Brotherhood Media], but I wanted to expand it to the Black British creative community so we could represent a range of voices.”

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By engaging Black British artists, Greg wants to inspire discussion, activism and change when it comes to the topic of race in the UK.

“While I understand that a poster cannot create structural change in and of itself, I do believe this campaign and ones like it have an important part to play in the fight for equality," he said.

He sees Black Outdoor Art as the "marketing of anti-racism".

He plans to run the project for as long as possible and says the location of the art is an important factor.

The Black Outdoor Art project showcases the work of black artists like Harkiran Kalsi.

The Black Outdoor Art project is showcasing the work of black artists like Harkiran Kalsi. - Credit: Black Outdoor Art

Adding that “if a billboard is done by an artist in Hackney, we’ll make sure it goes up in their ends”.

The graphic designer, who grew up in Hackney, says: “The thinking here is to create ownership of our communities and spaces. It’s a big deal for a creative to see their work 20ft in the air, in the area they live in.”

Although the billboards are currently located in London the project hopes to expand to other cities.

A billboard in London displays a piece of art called Grace by Kingsley Nebechi. 

A billboard in London displays a piece of art called Grace by Kingsley Nebechi. - Credit: Black Outdoor Art

A poster by Greg Banbury reads: "Black British History is British History."

A poster by Greg Banbury reads: "Black British History is British History." - Credit: Black Outdoor Art

A piece of art called Decolonise Everything by Nadina Ali.

A piece of art called Decolonise Everything by Nadina Ali. - Credit: Black Outdoor Art

A billboard displays a piece of art called Black Is Beautiful by Samuel Mensah. 

A billboard displays a piece of art called Black Is Beautiful by Samuel Mensah. - Credit: Black Outdoor Art

A billboard from the Black Outdoor Art project displayed in Selbourne Road, London.

A billboard from the Black Outdoor Art project displayed in Selbourne Road, London. - Credit: Black Outdoor Art


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