Rachel List the artist creating NHS murals in Pontefract

Rachel List’s colourful murals have been appearing on walls in her home town of Pontefract. It’s not a place normally known for its street art but Rachel’s pieces have been capturing the imagination. Paying tribute to NHS and frontline health workers. They are portrayed in a heroic and colourful way.

Prior to her new found exposure on the street Rachel was working as a professional muralist. However, due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus the interiors she would have normally painted were all now shut. It meant that the street would become the outlet for her talents. “I’ve never really identified as a street artist” she tells me, “but I suppose I can now”.

Nurse painting an NHS logo by Rachel List in Pontefract
Rachel List mural in Pontefract

Rachel List Street Art Murals

Her first mural was a picture of a paintbrush wielding nurse painting the NHS logo. The nurse, herself wearing a facemask, has added the ‘superman’ symbol instead of the ‘S’. The owner of the wall on which it is painted had thought of having a banner. Something to say thank you to the NHS workers fighting the virus. It was Rachel’s idea to have something a bit more permanent.

Now the town of Pontefract, known for its castle and its cakes, has a street art trail of sorts. Rachel tells me that only that morning before our interview, she’s painted her 11th piece. The towns wall owners she tells me are offering up their walls for her to use as she pleases. “From when I did the first one, I got so many messages. I could probably do every garden fence in Pontefract. I’ve just got a list of walls that have said, crack on”.

Doctors and Nurses superhero mural by Rachel List
Nurses and Doctors are the superheroes. A mural by Rachel List in Pontefract

Street Art in Pontefract

For a street artist, it’s a rare privilege. Walls are normally fairly hard to come by. Often artists will work with wall owners for months and sometimes years to get a suitable spot. This though is the impact of the murals on Pontefract, the public love them. So too, do the owners of the walls on which they are painted.

Other pieces have included a nurse and doctor opening their shirts to reveal wonder woman and superman. A mural showing Captain Tom, the remarkable fundraising former soldier is positioned on an alley leading to a war memorial. Another piece shows a facemask with the words ‘stay safe’ written in the string.

Mural of Captain Tom painted by Rachel List in Pontefract
Captain Tom mural by Rachel List in Pontefract

The Banksy of Pontefract

Of course whenever new street art pops up in a town where you might not find it, people speculate as to who did it. Normally the go to culprit is Banksy. “I don’t know why anyone would think Banksy would be in Pontefract” says Rachel. It got in the news though. Rumours then spread on twitter that he had in fact paid a visit. It prompted Rachel to start her own #itwasntbanksy hashtag.

One thing that hasn’t affected Rachel’s murals as yet is tagging. If they were by Banksy they might have been targeted by now, but all the pieces in Pontefract are still fresh. There’s even talk of a tour after lock down so that people can search them all out. Certainly she hopes that when people wander freely again, it’ll give a new found appreciation for what street art is. “It’s just great to get people involved in seeing art” she tells me. Already noting that it’s people from all age groups who seem to be enjoying her work.

Rachel List was interviewed as part of the Inspiring City ‘Art Online‘ series on 24 April 2020. You can see more of her work by checking out her instagram here.

Interview with Pontefract mural artist Rachel List
Stay Safe mural by Rachel List in Pontefract
Tribute mural to the NHS and Key workers in Pontefract by Rachel List
We're All in this together mural by Rachel List in Pontefract
‘We’re all in this Together’ mural in Pontefract by Rachel List
Video of Rachel creating her ‘We’re All in This Together’ mural

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