'Strength to Manchester': Meet the sidewalk artist paying tribute to Manchester bombing victims
Amara McLaughlin, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, May 24, 2017 4:56PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 24, 2017 11:24PM EDT
A sidewalk artist has emblazoned messages of solidarity along Toronto’s streets to inspire “strength” in the United Kingdom that’s reeling after the deadly Manchester bombing earlier this week.
This comes two days after 22 people were killed and scores were wounded in what authorities say was a targeted attack outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.
“I’m down here at city hall doing a piece to let the people of Manchester, if not the world, know here at our city hall where our voices are heard the loudest that it’s strength to freedom and strength to Manchester right now,” local artist Victor Fraser said as he painted a mural.
He also picked up his paint brush and crafted a mural outside Toronto’s British Consulate at College and Bay streets late Monday after learning of the attack. Bold, block letters read “Strength to Manchester.”
A day later, he painted the same slogan on the steps of old city hall in Nathan Phillips Square. This time the word Manchester was emboldened in the Union Jack – white, red and blue colours.
These art pieces combat what Fraser says are horrific acts of hate.
“As an artist, it is my job to do these things, but if anything to use the medium and the power of arts to help a society,” he said. “Art is a power to heal and it’s one of the last weapons we have to still make an impact.”
Fraser is known for his colourful sidewalk murals with social and political undertones.
The street artist has spent the last 22 years painting on the pavements of nearly 10 different countries, inspired by events in the world around him.
In November 2015 he fashioned the message “Force de Paris” after three suicide bombers struck the French capital. Then again when a truck barreled into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France last July, he wrote “Paix,” meaning peace in French.
He’s hoping similar “messages and words of positivity and hope” will find their way to Manchester.
“I can’t heal the people of Manchester, but I can at least sort of help them come to terms with what’s happened and show them acts of love opposed to discussing acts of hate, and to maybe have some type of balance, to show we aren’t scared,” he explained.
He is heading to northwest England tomorrow to visit the city.