‘Serenity,’ by stencil artist duo SNIK, marks the start of this year’s Cities of Hope street art convention

When Cities of Hope launched in 2016, it was an unprecedented success - reaching millions across the globe via social media, raising £20k for charity and hosting a series of sell-out events. 

Such is the power of street art: democratic, global, with the power to transform unloved spaces into striking masterpieces. Yet it’s often the stories behind the works that make them so compelling. The inaugural Cities of Hope saw nine leading artists paint on unused walls around Manchester, each raising money and awareness for a charitable cause - from war refugees to asylum seekers and homelessness.

READ MORE: Street art spectacular: Cities of Hope returns in 2018

Speaking of the project at the time, volunteer Raja Miah said: “We emailed the world’s leading street artists...and every single one replied, because they believe in using art as a social justice tool. A lot of the artists are notoriously private, and were a bit dubious about joining such a public campaign, but they agreed because of the ideology.”    

Fast forward to January 2018 and signs of the biennial convention are already appearing. In the shadow of Stevenson Square, behind the new Cow Hollow Hotel, a woman appears. Frozen in time, suspended, her deep crimson dress perhaps indicative of bloodshed - but also of anger, danger, passion. 

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Manchester is the birthplace of female suffrage: it was here Emmeline Pankhurst founded the WSPU
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Behind the new Cow Hollow Hotel, a large woman has appeared

This is SNIK’s tribute to the suffragettes, who once gathered here defiantly over a century ago. As 2018 marks 100 years since the first votes for women, it’s a powerful testimony to the changes they inspired - and perhaps, as the gender controversy rages on, a subtle call to arms.

The dramatic piece, named ‘Serenity’, comes courtesy of SNIK: a male-female duo who, with over a decade’s experience, have established themselves as one of the most progressive stencil artists of the moment. A taster for what’s to come when the Cities of Hope programme is announced this spring, it marks the convention’s first ‘tribute to hope’ - one of a series of artworks dedicated to those who have overcome adversity.

Of the piece (best seen from Lever Street), Cities of Hope said: “This tribute is in gratitude to all women that stand against injustice. The artwork recognises their strength, resolve and dignity; a testimony to what they have endured, and still endure, to make the world a better place for all of us.”  


She's up and looking incredible 😍 Serenity by @snikarts for @citiesofhope. Pics by @fifthwalltv Serenity - In the shadow of Stevenson Square, where over 100 years ago, the Suffragettes once gathered defiant , Cities of Hope is proud to reveal the first of our Tributes to Hope. This tribute is in gratitude to all women that stand against injustice. A recognition of their strength, resolve and dignity, A testimony to what they have endured and still endure, to make the world a better place, for all of us. We honour you, we witness your courage and are humbled by your sacrifice. Serenity is the production of the female and male partnership that is SNIK. A representation of this struggle for equality, as she moves on from the hardships, troubles and pain of the past, to a new future made possible only through the selfless deed of those that have come before, those that are amongst us now and those that are yet to come. Serenity moves up, down or to the sides. She moves in to the past and beyond to the future. Her purpose, to inspire those who refuse to lose hope, who continue to believe. Where there is inequality, so also is Serenity. A reminder to all of us, that we do not stand alone, we have never stood alone. #serenity #citiesofhope #streetart #urbanart #urbanartist #graffiti #art #worldart #urbanartistry #urbanartistryuk #manchester #ilovemanchester #northernquarter #feminism #socialissues #beauty #100years #suffragettes
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