Carlisle is a historic city perhaps better known for it’s castle and Roman past. Look a bit deeper though and street art is beginning to appear on its walls. Dotted within a fairly easy wander of the centre. The murals here are part of an initiative led by the local art organisation Blank Wall Assassins and the Landmark Street Art gallery.
Artists of Carlisle
Prominent street art in Carlisle includes work from SMUG, Tymon De Laat, Ben Eine, Atma and Jacqueline de Montaigne. These are joined by smaller pieces from Angry Dan, Lucie Flynn, AME 72, Tabby, Andy Ash and Martin Evans. Most have been created at different points from 2018 up until 2023.
Northern Paint Festival
In 2022 the city also played host to the Northern Paint Festival which aimed to bring street art closer to the public. Painting on boards in the local park, the event combined food, music and street art together over a period of five days. All against the backdrop of the imposing Carlisle Castle.
Street Art in Carlisle
AME 72 – Struts, Chapel Street (2018)
Ame 72 is an artist from Sheffield now living in Israel. He is known for his lego inspired street art. Visiting Carlisle in 2018 he created two murals both on the side of Struts on Chapel Street. The first piece features his character Lenny dressed as a spaceman. The second called ‘Spot Graffer’ shows a lego graffiti writer spraying colourful dots on the wall.
Andy Ash – Struts, Chapel Street (2021)
‘All the colours’ is the work from Andy Ash on Chapel Street in Carlisle. The artist is known for his doodle art and Carlisle would be the first time he had painted a mural on the street.
Angry Dan – Struts, Chapel Street (2019)
Known for his limericks and wordplay, the Cantankerous Man from Carlisle can be seen on Chapel Street on the side of Struts. Originally painted in London it caught the eye of Landmark Gallery’s Ben Heslop who invited Dan to paint the same piece in Carlisle itself. You can listen to an Inspiring City interview with Dan here.
ATMA – Tullies House, Castle Street (2023)
At the entrance to the Tullie House museum, French artist ATMA has created a colourful homage to different cultures. It features a main character called Lady Tullie, a made up portrait that symbolises “all of us”. The artist had hosted a a series of three workshops with people living in Carlisle from different countries including Ukraine, Taiwan, Eritrea, and Syria. The final design was informed by the conversations that took place during those events.
Speaking about the project on Instagram, ATMA said “The richness of the creation was incredible and my role, as a conductor, was to combine all these beautiful voices into a symphony: the temple of cultures. This project truly demonstrates how communication and exchange de-multiply into beauty”.
Ben Eine – Friars Court (courtyard of the Print Yard) (2020)
An artist known for his use of typography. Ben Eine has been a regular on the street art scene for years. His fonts having become instantly recognisable. Painted big, bright and bold with often just a short phrase or word. His piece in Carlisle covers the back wall of the Print Yard courtyard. Accessed from Friars Court it says the word ‘Exciting‘.
Jacqueline de Montaigne – Junction Street (2023)
Lisbon based British artist Jacqueline de Montaigne’s Grace of Parnassus uses the flower of Cumbria as the main protagonist in her work. Officially known as the Grass of Parnassus it produces cramy white flowers and generally found in damp soils such as moors and marshes. The flowers surround a portrait of a woman who seems to be relaxed and enjoying Cumbrian sun. Surrounding her is a crest of silver leaf which shimmers when the light hits it right.
Lucie Flynn – Friars Court (back of the Thin White Duke) (2020)
An artist known for her colourful abstract portraits, Lucie Flynn’s piece can be seen high on the back wall of the Thin White Duke. Accessed via Friars Court it shows a grumpy looking character seemingly pouting at passers by. Her work is the result of blocks of colour constantly re-applied to form the resultant portrait.
Martin Evans – Devonshire Street (2022)
Framed within the arch of a murky alley. Martin Evans picturesque scene of Aira Force showing a bridge and waterfall is illuminated by the light coming in at the end. Normally better known for this studio work it would be the first time he has tried to transfer his style to the street. “It isn’t often you turn a corner and find a more traditional landscape painting” says Martin on his blog.
Phoebe Bell – Coco Mill (2019)
Joy Bound is a work from local artist Phoebe Bell. Having just finished her A Levels, Blank Wall Assassins Ben Heslop, spoke with her about transforming one of her smaller drawings into a much bigger wall piece. The piece features a smiling woman with rope wrapped around her face.
SMUG – West Walls (2021)
An Australian artist, living in Glasgow, SMUG’s large scale realistic murals are known the world over. His giant work on the West Walls featuring a Roman warrior coming into contact with ‘Belatucadros’ an imposing celtic diety. “I just thought it would be fun, I’m enjoying painting fantastical things recently” said SMUG on a video about the piece.
Tabby – Multiple Locations (2018)
Tabby is an anonymous Austrian artist known for his ironic stencil art. A number of pieces can be found in Carlisle. Sometimes described as Banksy-esque he says that he’s not like Banksy at all as “I don’t have that lovely British accent”. He work uses irony and humour to get his message across. Hoping to be able to connect with his audience in the brief moment it might take when coming across a work on the street.
Tymon de Laat – 27 John Street (2021)
‘All from this Earth’ is the second piece from Dutch artist Tymon de Laat in Carlisle. The girl in the image is someone he photographed whilst travelling to the island of Don Det in Laos during 2009. His aim is to connect people across continents by placing her image overlooking the side of a prominent road. Featuring people from different cultures in this way reminds the viewer that we are ‘all from this earth‘.
Tymon de Laat – The Old Fire Station
A portrait of a Mexican firefighter on the walls of the Old Fire Station was Tymon de Laat’s first mural in Carlisle. The reference for the photo was taken during a trip to the Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula. The model, Julian Silvestre is a local firefighter and is shown in full firefighting kit. ‘Bombero’ means firefighter in Spanish. Interestingly the name ‘Silvestre’ means wild so it could be translated as ‘Wild Firefighter’. As with much of Tymon’s work he likes to connect people through art. The idea then to place a Mexican firefighter in an old Cumbrian firestation probably would have been appropriate.
Carlisle was visited on 6 August 2023. Most street art here is accessible within a fairly easy walk from one another. You can find more art and discover locations via the Street Art Cities Carlisle page. The work in Carlisle has been supported by the Landmark Art Gallery and the Blank Wall Assassins. Both led by Ben Heslop who has been a driving force behind street art in the city.