Can a combination of Leeds United and a Charlie Chalk Fun Factory change the game for street artists?

An artist who has painted one of the Leeds United murals that are captivating fans and communities across the city says the pieces of work are inspiring young street artists.

Sunday, 31st October 2021, 7:34 am

Phil Harris, known as Flarris, was asked by the Leeds United Supporter's Trust to create the latest tribute to the club which is on the side of The Yorkshire Rose pub at Guiseley.

As he created the piece of work, which depicts the three managers that have led the club to promotion success, it got people talking regardless of whether they were into art or football - or neither - and he says other works like this could help inspire a generation of budding artists who have difficulty finding ways to express their work - which is often mixed up with graffiti or vandalism.

Mr Harris said: "When you go into other cultures all over the world, you find street art is more acceptable than it is here. Graffiti has given art on the street a bad name. There is a difference between graffiti that is vandalism and street art.

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Street artist Phil Harris with the mural he did at The Yorkshire Rose pub at Guiseley.

"Kids just need some kind of canvas to express themselves and free the creative. For some the only way for them to do that is to get it out there because they don't get the exposure. Things have changed slowly because of social media and there are some absolutely excellent examples out there.

"There is that aspiration to create but do better things for the community."

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As a Leeds United fan he says he felt the pressure to do a good job of the commission, one, because he always sets high expectations for himself but, also, because it could change the way street art is viewed.

Leeds based artist, Phil Harris.

He explained: "With this, I wanted to make the trust happy, I wanted to make sure that the fans going around looking at these would be happy but, most importantly I wanted it to stand alone as a community street art project so that more people can get involved."

Even for a street artist with the career and experience that Mr Harris has, he says he still finds it difficult to get street art projects because people are unsure of an artist's ability and above that - they have the worry about how it will be received by the public.

His own career in murals and street art which has ended up in a Leeds United gig wasn't always so premier league.

After leaving school, he started an apprenticeship with a pre-print studio at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, took a gap year and then secured a job doing pictorals for pub hanging signs.

Phil Harris with members of the Leeds United Supporter's Trust at the official unveiling of the mural.

"That did not last long", he recalls.

"The sign company bought into a company that did internal play areas and they asked me if I wanted to do murals before they installed the play areas. If you ever visited a Charlie Chalk Fun Factory or a Whacky Wharehouse in the 90s there is a good chance you will have seen the work that I did. I did about 220 of them all over the country from Elgin to Bournemouth and did them for about five years."

After doing another piece of work for The Yorkshire Rose for Remembrance Day, Mr Harris will do indoor work for the winter months which ranges from interior design commissions for people's homes, bars and clubs as well as gyms and show-homes.

But, he hopes that Don Revie, Howard Wilkinson and Marcelo Bielsa will help put street art for young people in another league as well.

Phil Harris pictured putting the finishing touches to the mural a few weeks ago.

Mr Harris said: "From working on this and the amount of positive feedback from passers-by, from all generations and backgrounds who don't even have a clue who the images are of, it is changing it (attitudes to street art).

"It is about changing it from graffiti or vandalism to art for the community that gets people talking and inspired."

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