Meeting Shawn Sharpe, the artist behind Church Street’s striking Preston mural

Posted on - 2nd August, 2023 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Business, City Centre, People, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Proud Preston, Pubs, What's On in Preston
Local photographer Scrappy NW photographed the mural by drone. Pic Scrappy NW
Local photographer Scrappy NW photographed the mural by drone. Pic Scrappy NW

A striking mural based on Preston’s crest has become the talk of the city, with many people taking to social media to applaud it. The mural is called Mother and is the work of Preston artist Shawn Sharpe aka REASM. The artist works across the UK on artwork commissions for pubs, clubs and a variety of other venues but decided to return to Preston to create his first public mural in the city. We had a chat with Shawn to find out more.

“I’ve been wanting to paint a mural in Preston for years, but they either got a ‘no’ or I couldn’t get the funding,” said Shawn. “In March, I knocked on a door to ask about painting a wall in Ashton and it turned into multiple paintings around the UK and Preston, so maybe we can call it luck. All thanks to Gary Roberts.”

Mother took Shawn just five days to complete. It depicts a strong, young woman holding a lamb, with Preston’s flag draped around her.

Read more: Hand-painted mural revisiting Preston’s rich textiles history set to adorn The Harris hoardings

Shawn Sharpe with his mural entitled Mother. Pic Bernie Blackburn
Shawn Sharpe with his mural entitled Mother. Pic Bernie Blackburn

“I really wanted my first public mural in Preston to be for the people that live here,” said Shawn. “Not just another portfolio piece. I decided to play on Preston’s crest, using a strong young motherly figure as the main focal piece. She is watching over the city while protecting her lamb. The PP can mean Prince of Peace or Proud Preston, I suppose it depends on your walk of life.”

“I hope everyone can appreciate the mural and I hope they get a sense of pride when they view it or share it with their friends. The face of Preston is changing rapidly and we need to start putting our stamp on the city.”

Read more: Second Paint Preston mural unveiled at back of city centre pub

As soon as Shawn’s mural was completed, people took to social media to share images of it and praise it. Scrappy NW, an urban explorer, and photographer from Preston, took his drone out to shoot the mural from above.

“I think it’s a great piece,” said Scrappy. “Something that Preston has been needing for a long time. The placement of it is brilliant, looking down Church Street it takes pride of place.”

This may not be the first time you have viewed Shawn’s artistic work. Viewing his social media feeds, you can see that he has been quietly working away behind the scenes, creating striking pieces of art within the walls of Preston’s bars and businesses. A recent piece of his is displayed on Cannon Street and received a lot of praise on social media.

Shawn Sharpe's work can also be seen on Cannon Street. Pic Lisa Brown
Shawn Sharpe’s work can also be seen on Cannon Street. Pic Lisa Brown

“The space on Cannon Street was donated to me,” said Shawn. “I didn’t really think it would get as much coverage as it did, as I just painted traditional graffiti letters but I am glad it has. I hope more people walk down Cannon Street to see the piece and visit the many shops and cafes down there.” 

Shawn has been involved in Preston’s graffiti scene for over a decade and a half, from creating ever-changing artwork on the side of The Ship to organising a big graffiti event in the city featuring some of the UK’s best artists. I wanted to find out how the scene had evolved during that time.

“Many people have come and gone in that time,” said Shawn. “I wouldn’t say the scene has evolved in any way but a few artists have grown far beyond what Preston could offer. Now it’s time to evolve the mural culture in Preston, hopefully with the backing of businesses and the council.”

One person who has been following his work has been prolific Preston photographer Bernie Blackburn.

“I’ve photographed Shawn’s work for well over a decade now,” said Bernie. “I’ve watched him develop into a first-class artist, and as we can all clearly see from his latest landmark creation on Church Street, a phenomenal muralist. The current avalanche of praise he’s receiving is very well deserved, I’ve long admired his dedication and dogged determination to succeed, particularly through the difficult times.

“Photographing the creation of Shawn’s hometown homage at Hogarth’s has been a pleasure, and from chatting to him about it, I can tell you that his love for the city of Preston is heartfelt and 100% genuine. The reaction of Prestonians in particular has been a joy to see and I have no doubt whatsoever that Shawn’s latest artistic triumph will prove to be a springboard to even greater success. I couldn’t be more pleased for him.”

Read more: Gavin Renshaw’s first Paint Preston mural spotted on Boltons Court

Shawn has plans for at least two more murals in the city but can’t say too much about these at the moment. In the meantime, we’ll keep our eyes peeled in the city and wait. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

Follow Shawn Sharpe aka REASM on Instagram and Facebook.

Stay up to date with Bernie Blackburn’s work on Twitter and Scrappy NW’s explorations on Instagram.

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