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”.
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”.
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.
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.
For more Inspiring City articles featuring street art in Yorkshire, check out: