Well known for his expressive portraits popping out of the walls of London. Woskerksi’s latest work features Marie Mcleod, a campaigner on Mental Health issues and subject of his latest work on the top of the Jealous Gallery rooftop in Shoreditch.
Part of a campaign from ‘Trapped in Zone One‘. Marie’s work with ‘Depression Changes Minds‘ is about going into the community and working with individuals and families affected by childhood depression. For Bablu Miah the founder of Trapped in Zone One it’s about “honoring someone who does great work in our community day in and day out.”
Of course painting high up in the Shoreditch skyline during one of the wettest weekends in December is going to pose it’s own challenges. The Jealous Gallery have been generous with their space but sheltered from the elements it is not. With the first day pretty much a right off due to the weather it fell to the second to really get going on the piece.
Woskerski is quick though. The type of portrait he paints seems to give him an energy and he talks about the importance of being invested in his subject matter. With Marie it’s all about glow he tells me. “I wanted to show something that represents the glow she brings to people’s lives.”
It’s that glow which can be seen emanating out of the portrait. Not yet finished, I can still see what the artist is trying to do. She sits, her head cusped in her hands, a pose of surprise and wonder on her face. The hands glow, a kind of light shimmers from them and lights her up. It gets more detailed as we watch. Bit by bit, little layers of spray paint are added and the texture of the image builds.
A campaigner on Mental Health issues, the fact that she had been nominated as part of a wider search to find a Tower Hamlets community hero was news to Marie. “I won and I didn’t even know I’d been entered” she laughs. It was a friend of hers who had heard about the campaign. Thinking that Marie’s work around creating supportive communities for people to talk about mental health issues, particularly in young people was worthy of a giant mural in Shoreditch.
“My son fell ill about four years ago with severe depression and I tried to find a parent group that I could go to, to get support so that I could support him” she told me when asked how she got involved in her work. “But I couldn’t find one so I spoke to some local people and decided to just put a flyer out there and start one myself. So supporting other people but also supporting myself by finding other people who were going through this same sort of thing.”
The result is that Marie now runs workshops in schools and other community venues where mental health problems particularly signs and symptoms are discussed and explored. Not only that, she runs peer support groups for parents and runs retreats where parents and children can go to look at alternative therapies which support positive mental health.
“I just feel like we need to be able to support one another and support parents and lift them up to help bring some light into peoples lives really. Just by talking about their experiences and not having this hidden in a dark place anymore.”
That’s part of the reasoning too behind the title of the mural and the inspiration. Called ‘Go with the Glow’ it’s the light that Woskerski really wanted to show. Shining out of her hands as she cups them to her face, they glow as they light up her face. “I wanted to show the glow”
The mural was painted on the top of the Jealous Gallery rooftop in London between 15-17 December 2018. Organised by ‘Trapped in Zone One‘ and supported by Great Art. The mural was part of a campaign to recognise a community champion in Tower Hamlets. The mural was painted by Woskerski.