Street art is not new to Doncaster. If you spend time in Bentley, you’ll have seen the work of street artist Chris Swain, who worked with several community groups to revitalised Bentley’s brick work into vibrant works of art.
You might also remember when world-class cartoonist, illustrator and street artist, Phlegm painted Church View back in 2012 transforming a run-down space into an incredible work of art.
This Donny street artist has gone global
Five years on, Doncaster is once again welcoming world class talent. This time it’s Doncaster born and bred artist Keith Hopewell, aka SPZero76 who’s been commissioned by Doncaster Council to paint the hoardings up around the Corn Exchange at Doncaster market whilst restoration work is carried out. Keith grew up in Hyde Park and studied at Doncaster art college before moving to Bristol for university. Now aged 40 he’s worked for some of the world’s biggest brands and his street art can be seen in New York, Sweden, Japan and London.
I popped down to Donny market to hang out with SPZero76 and Kid Crayon who is helping him out. The reaction from members of the public was unbelievably positive. So many people stopped to chat, take photos or just to tell us how much brighter it had made the market area look. Donny might get some stick for being rough but the atmosphere down at the market felt approachable and chilled. SPZero76 said it was the friendlies place he’d ever painted. How good is that to hear!
The question that we got asked time and time again is what’s the story behind the work and what does each section represent. If you’re walking around the street art covered hoardings here’s your guide to explain each section.
Danum to Doncaster: A spray of Doncaster’s past, present & future
Street art doesn’t start with mindless graffiti. This project started with a clear idea to condense Doncaster’s history, present and future and bring it to life with spray paint.
We start in 50AD when a Roman fort located on the site that is now covered by St George’s Minster, was constructed at a crossing of the River Don. This fort was named Danum.
The 1170’s see’s the construction of Conisbrough Castle by the Normans with a Keep towering 27 meters high.
Fast forward eight hundred years and Doncaster becomes an industrial mining town. Why you might ask, does this image bares a ‘Markham 620’. Here Keith pays tribute to his late grandfather who worked down Markham Main and this is his grandfather’s pit ID tag.
The magnificent St George’s Minster is the backdrop for polar bears, Nissan and Pixel from Yorkshire Wildlife Park, getting married. It’s a nod to all of the thousands of Doncaster couples who have celebrated their love by getting married at St Georges Minster over the years, including Keith’s grandparents. Whilst not prescribing to the belief that only men and women can get married legally. So rather than show people, sod it why not imagine Donny’s most famous animal duo getting wed.
We then see an energetic display of modern day Donny iconic buildings, facilities and events that are gathering fame throughout the UK. The Mansion House – one of only three in the UK, the St Leger horse racing festival, the Tour de Yorkshire cycling race, Yorkshire Wildlife Park and Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield (even though it’s not in Sheffield – FFS) airport.
Next, the investment and future developments include a painting of the waved roof of the new rail collage over at Lakeside and The Hub as Doncaster starts to welcome hordes of new students.
Finally, we will see the word Doncaster when the guys finish it in August. Decorated with footballs and rugby balls to represent Donny Rovers and Doncaster Knights. Finished off and adored with white roses cos we’re proud to be in Yorkshire.
And in case you were wondering the reason it’s painted in turquoise is because it’s SP’s favourite colour and it’s more cost effective.
We’ve been working on this project to bring SPZero76 and other street artists to Doncaster as a Doncopolitan team with the council for the past 9 months. Yep. 9 months of paper pushing to get some guys to spray paint a wall. At times, the snail-paced speed that Doncaster council work at makes me want to bash my head against a brick wall in frustration. But seeing this work happen and how supportive the council, the market traders and the team at the Corn Exchange have been has made it all worthwhile. Hat’s off to the council town centre team. I guess to them something this different, felt like a brave decision. One I hope they are proud of after seeing the publics response. Especially Doncaster mayor, Ros Jones. Some younger people may question if she’s really in touch with young culture today, but if she keeps making decisions like this, she’s rocking it.
Hopefully this new piece of street art is the start of something. Not an artwork in isolation. Street and urban art can help provide a much-needed make-over in the run down areas of the town centre whilst creating something that tells a story, inspires people to engage in art on their turf and makes Donny look unique. Promisingly the council are already working on another street art project with Doncaster based artists in the Waterdale area. To encourage this to happen sooner rather than at a snail-pace, if you like what we’ve created could you please share and comment so we can apply for some legal walls for artists in Doncaster to share how #doncasterisgreat through street art.
It’s not finished yet.
SPZero76 and Kid Crayon will be back in Donny 14 -17 August to finish off spray painting the hoardings at Doncaster Market. Feel free to pop down during the day to say hi and to admire their work. Otherwise head down to Doncaster Market anytime to look at the work so far.