Painting a safer future at an anti-knife crime rally

A street artist has used his aerosols as a weapon against stabbings at an anti-knife crime rally. Ben Eine, from Elephant & Castle, was a big part of the Stop Knife Crime Youth Unity Day in Dagenham, east London last weekend.

The painter, whose studio is in the Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey, teamed up with the anti knife crime organisation Conscious Links to unveil on the day a 19ft mural saying UNITY.

Ben has worked with charity The Flavasum Trust to help stop knife crime and empower youth in a positive direction through art. Mr Eine started his career more than 30 years ago as a graffiti writer, leaving his first tag all over London before developing his distinct typographic style – and now believes street art is distinct from graffiti.

The event was run by volunteers and featured 36 grass roots organisations coming together to share ideas, resources, skills and knowledge from across London.

Shirley Jackson, director of Conscious Links, said: “Working in unity is the way forward in helping our youths and bringing our communities together. It’s time to forget egos but to all work together – it’s only then we can truly help the young people who need help and guidance.”

Youth Unity Day is the beginning of a support system helping communities unite to help reduce youth violence.

It aims to be a lifeline to the many organisations facing funding cuts that already support many young people; build stronger connections to help young people access services easier, get them engaged in something worthwhile instead of gangs and violence.

Mr Eine began painting huge, bright and colourful letters on shutters all over east London. They caught the public’s attention and were seminal in the rise of street art’s popularity. His partnership with the then emerging London graffiti artist Banksy was hugely influential to the commercial success of both artists.

International acclaim was further heightened when the UK Prime Minister David Cameron gifted his ‘Twenty First Century City’ artwork to President Obama in 2010.

His work is now held in the permanent collections of the V&A Museum.

Main photo: Ben Eine with Shirley Jackson, Youth Unity Day organiser and director of Conscious Links – Photo: Louis Thornton Film

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