Since we last spoke to Stik in Issue 3, not only has he got exponentially more prolific, but he has seemingly become pretty politicised, and is lending his talents and his characters to various campaigns. Add to that a visit to the House of Lords, and we just had to chase him up for another chat
We’ve snapped you around town over the last 12 months and you’ve been a busy boy. Tell us about some of the summer’s highlights so far…
Over the last few months I’ve been back to Glastonbury after the council deleted my mural in the town itself. I went down to the festival to paint some walls but I got there so early, there were no walls yet built to graf so I had to go off in search of somewhere to paint. I did the town mural three months ago and heard it got defaced before the council deleted it. It actually made the local newspapers and online community because the people of Glastonbury was asking for it back. So it was quite a pleasure to go up and put it back early on a Sunday morning. It made the Glastonbury Festival paper as well which was cool. Whilst I was still up there the mural got defaced again but by the time I heard and went up there somebody in the town had actually repaired it. I’m really happy the town people have adopted the piece. I’m just learning how Glastonbury works and how street art is being received by the people and council. I’m starting to try and put roots in Glastonbury as a second or third home. There’s a lot going on there - different camps and tribes from hippies to healers and white goddesses while at the same time there’s a very conservative viewpoint in play as well. It’s really about people trying not to offend and move things gently on in the street art scene. I did some pieces at the Glastonbury Festival as well - the toilets. They were the only standing structures when i arrived there.
We noticed you’re getting involved with certain activist groups, how did that come about?
I’m from a political background as my art family are very political so I’ve been around it for a long time. I don’t want to be known as a political artist but I think the chickens are coming home to roost. There are some causes I feel very strongly about and I feel comfortable enough in my art to start applying that to subjects greater than myself. The Stik men started out as very personal images or emotive and they transfer the human story really well on a political platform. Many political issues are extremely complex and very dry, so it’s hard to say what’s going on in simple terms. But to create a little image that says this is the situation in Bhopal or in the Niyamgiri Hills or in Hackney Wick and Temple Mills, brings it to a different audience because I don’t read political newspapers. I’m not even into reading. I’m a visual person and there’s a lot of people like that who are missing out on understanding the core issues of what’s going on in the world. A lot of these causes are out there and need to be brought to life in a different way.
Tell us a little about the banner you’re painting today.
This is for the people of the Niyamgiri Hills who are being removed from their land by a London based mining company called Vedanta. It’s a mountain range in India and this particular mountain has been their home for millennia. It’s their mother, it’s their god, it’s their land and it’s their keeper. Vedanta plan to blow the top of the mountain off and extract bauxite from it. It’s been described as a real live Avatar situation, the idea that the mountain itself is a resource that Vedanta want to turn into aluminum. That’s why I used the silver paint on the banner - the aluminum mountain and it highlights cost and value and conflicting interests. It’s all very complex and someone from the tribe is speaking on behalf of Vedanta so they are putting a lot of pressure on the people. There’s a lot of foul play going on and manipulation as the company is trying to make it as complex as possible but it’s actually really clear cut. There’s been a lot of development already happening in the area and the first thing to be effected is the water supply which is contaminated by the Vedanta factory. If you search online you’ll find a really nice film presented by Joanna Lumley that really gets to the heart of the matter. You see children staring into the camera saying ‘no one will take our mountain’ and I look at them and think - I believe you mate. But in the face of bulldozers, corporations and large work forces these people need our help and support. The banner is being hung outside The Institute of Civil Engineers as part of a demonstration there. Survival International will be there plus some other political activist groups.