19th November 2018
It’s 10 years since one of the UK’s most acclaimed and original street artists Ben Eine first painted letters on a 21m long wall in Old Street with the simple message CHANGE in association with anti-knife crime charity the Flavasum Trust in memory of Tom-Louis Easton and other victims of knife crime. Over the past decade, the words on the wall, written in Eine’s instantly recognisable signature font have changed – cryptic one word messages linked to knife crime and the good work the Trust does – CREATE, WORTH MORE and ENGAGING were to follow. This week however, as further grim statistics surface in the media, Ben Eine unveils a huge new which shouts the message loud and clear for all passing by to see – STOP KNIFE CRIME.
Ben Eine says “The situation with knife crime is just getting worse and worse and people have had enough. More has to be done to prevent it. This has to stop.”
Following the unprovoked fatal stabbing in 2006 of 22 year-old youth worker and musician Tom-Louis Easton, nearly next to the Old Street wall, Tom’s mother Dolores Altaras and his family founded the Tom Easton Flavasum Trust in 2007 to try reduce the number of young people carrying knives and steer them away from knife crime by supporting projects that use the arts. With no commission fee, Eine agreed to paint a strong message on the 70 by 8 foot wall for the Flavasum Trust, which he has continued to repaint for a decade.
Peter at Flavasum Trust says “Ben’s paintings near where Tom was stabbed to death in 2006 are a constant reminder to anyone passing along Old Street that something tragic happened there. When he first painted CHANGE, people were taken aback and wanted to know what it was all about. Ten years later knife crime is still with us and Ben still gives up his time. We love and respect him for that!”
Five fatal stabbings in six days in London this month, knife crime figures reach a seven year high and now in the aftermath of what has been called a ‘summer stabbing spree’ by press, stabbings in the city are reported on a nearly daily basis as the epidemic spreads all over London and out to the home counties; the growing situation is both horrifying and shocking. Ben Eine hopes his striking, new piece of street art will create further awareness about knife crime, and his art relate younger generations, especially in the capital, in the most powerful way he knows, the writing on the wall – STOP KNIFE CRIME.
About the Flavasum Trust:
Tom-Louis Easton was a talented musician and was working as a sound engineer at the EC1 Music Project when he was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack inside the studio in 2006. His mother Dolores Altaras and her partner Peter launched the anti-knife crime charity the Flavasum Trust in his memory. The Trust was set up to help individuals and organisations using the arts to reach more people, and create opportunities where the most marginalised can find ways to change their lives. Projects using music, theatre, dance, poetry, film, photography and visual art are just some they support, as well as research which can provide evidence that the arts indeed have the impact they claim for them.
Lowering the number of young people carrying knives is a key objective for the Trust, but that can never be enough. They aim to help young people find new ways to live more positive lives.
About Ben Eine:
Born in London, Ben Eine is one of the most successful street artists in the world and is regarded as a pioneer in the exploration of graffiti letterforms. Eine started his career over 25 years ago subsequently creating his bright and colourful letters to stand out from the usual graffiti tags and dubs seen on the streets. These letters appear on shop shutters and often spell whole words across walls. Eine first came to prominence in the “commercial” graffiti scene through his symbiotic partnership with London graffiti artist Banksy. In 2010 the UK Prime Minister David Cameron gifted his artwork to President Obama, while a particular area of the East End was named ‘Alphabet City’ after his colourful array of shopfront ‘shutter art’.
Ben Eine’s work is held in the permanent collections of the V&A, London, The Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles and galleries worldwide, while his street art can be seen all over the world in galleries his distinctive letters continue to spell words and phrases across walls from London to LA, Florence to Tokyo. He continues to use street art to engage and surprise the public. In 2018 Eine unveiled the largest street art work in the world; the ‘CREATE’ mural – a 17500 square foot artwork painted on industrial ground in East London that is visible from space.