The permanent street art trail debuts on 15 May

A new collection of permanent street art will bring vibrancy to Old Trafford. The OT Street Art Trail, organised by OT Creative Space and funded by Arts Council England, launches this weekend (15 May).

The six large-scale murals are by artists Russ Meehan (Qubek/Mural Life), Martene Rourke, Jamie Rennie, Sam Owen Hull, Robert Lomas and Donna Michelle Griffith.

Residents and street art spotters can expect to see walls adorned with birds, strawberries, a huge tree and a typographical exploration of the word "together".

Each mural is no more than 10 minutes walk from the OT Creative Space studios and the whole trail is linked together by a downloadable spoken word performance from poet Isaiah Hull.

We tried to make a bit of a change in that they're not just street artists, but also graphic designers, fine artists, even a print maker

Ahead of the trail opening on 15 May, Confidentials took a stroll with organiser Lynda Sterling of studios and artists’ hub OT Creative Space around the streets of Old Trafford to see works in progress.

Lynda’s mission was to make the murals deeply embedded in the Old Trafford community. Originally, she had planned to hold workshops in schools, residential homes and other community settings. But as successive lockdowns meant people couldn’t gather, the OT Creative Space team had to come up with new ways of involving residents.

Old Trafford Art Trail Martene Rourke
Martene Rourke with her work in progress

“We didn't just want artists to come in and do stuff. We wanted the ideas to come from the community,” said Lynda. “We had to be very creative in order to maximise community participation at a time when we are being encouraged to stay apart rather than come together.

“We wanted to be able to empower people to get involved. We sent them creative packs and this had multiple illustrations of each location. Then we did some online workshops, just talking to people to try and gather in as many ideas as possible. So there's an ownership by the people.”

Many of the six artists are based in Old Trafford. Lynda added: “Some live in Old Trafford or have already worked here. We tried to make a bit of a change in that they're not just street artists, but also graphic designers, fine artists, even a printmaker.”

“There’s a theme of strawberries as well which came out of what we did with the community. The history is that this all used to be strawberry fields here. So in each mural, there will be a hint of a strawberry that connects them - you've got a realistic one, the big strawberries, an abstract one.”

Lynda said: “Some people approached us and said ‘we'd love to have a mural’ when they heard about the project. I’ve approached others. We also talked to the Housing Association and convinced them that this is a great project to be part of.

Old Trafford Art Trail Qubek Mural
Qubek takes a break from working on his mural

The murals are expected to last five to ten years so agreeing to have one on your gable end is a big commitment.

Michelle Griffith volunteered her home on Ayres Road as a canvas for a mural.

She said: “This is just what Old Trafford needs. It will bring some colour to an otherwise muted part of Old Trafford.

“I’m really excited by the community engagement and getting to work with and alongside the artists. It’s bringing together factions of the community that are normally dormant.”

The OT Art Trail launches on 15 May and you can find out more information from the OT Creative Space website

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Meet the artists and find their murals

Qubek (125 Henrietta Street) is a Manchester-based graffiti artist and muralist. His work can be found right across the city, including many walls and boardings around the Northern Quarter.

Robert Lomas (Seymour Park) is an independent designer and artist from Old Trafford. His bold and positive work explores typography, colour and movement through a range of different mediums including animation, papercraft, screen printing and spray paint.

Martene Rourke (61 Stamford Street) is a graffiti artist and photographer from Manchester. Her current work is a development of abstract forms inspired directly by graffiti lettering and the urban built environment.

Jamie Rennie (70 Ayres Road) has over 35 years of experience working across a multitude of disciplines with graffiti, murals, graphics, video, and glass at the forefront. n the last few years he has focused on working with heritage projects allowing him to build an extensive knowledge of the social history of Manchester and in particular Old Trafford, Northenden, Wythenshawe and Sale.

Sam Owen Hull (1 Park Avenue) is a contemporary artist working in Manchester. Her work is particularly focused on the edges where the urban meets the natural.

Donna Michelle Griffith (174 Stamford Street) is a Director and Studio Manager at OT Creative Space. She is a multi disciplinary artist living and working in Old Trafford.

Isaiah Hull is a writer and spoken word artist from Old Trafford and developed his poetry and performance as a member of Young Identity. He has supported major poets and artists, including Lemn Sissay and Skepta.