David Walker Contemplates the Role of His Mural in a French City

“I was conflicted about making the mural in France,” says Street Artist and muralist David Walker about the new sky-gazing countenance of a woman he painted there during the recent terrorist attacks. “I felt it I wasn’t commenting on the current situation there.”

It’s often a point of contention with public art and one that is discussed by city elders, academics, passersby: what role does art in the public have? Is it to advocate, reflect, comment upon, distract, reassure?

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David Walker in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France for Galerie Mathgoth. July 2016. (photo © Galerie Mathgoth)

Commissioned public and private murals and illegal Street Art are all judged by many and assumptions about the artists intent or role are called into question, – even by the artist. “What’s the point of taking up more wall space?,” asks Walker. “Due to the nature of my work, I can have internal conflictions wherever I go,” he says.

Even though Boulogne-sur-Mer is three hours north of Paris, people in the town felt very affected by the attacks, and many conversations touched upon the events – which seemed to be unfolding even as he painted. “During my stay the TV looped with news of another attack in a northern city just a few hours away,” he says.

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David Walker in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France for Galerie Mathgoth. July 2016. (photo © Galerie Mathgoth)

It was a 7-day long installation and he says he enjoyed the conversations that he had with people on the street. Some paid him compliments and he says he even appreciated those who didn’t particularly like his work.

“A few commented that the image was not exactly to their taste, but they appreciated that I worked hard everyday and the gesture.” Not exactly work for the thin-skinned, that’s for sure.

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David Walker in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France for Galerie Mathgoth. July 2016. (photo © Galerie Mathgoth)

Ultimately, Walker says that he decided the new mural plays an important part in the dialogue of the city.

“After painting and seeing and hearing the buzz happening around the wall, in the newspapers and cafes and restaurants we visited, the people made me feel that actually sometimes something simple, hopeful and human can be enough – or even what’s needed from art. I was, at times, taken aback by the positivity I felt towards the work and I was relieved that somehow it did have a place there.”

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David Walker in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France for Galerie Mathgoth. July 2016. (photo © Galerie Mathgoth)

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David Walker in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France for Galerie Mathgoth. July 2016. (photo © Galerie Mathgoth)

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