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Street art like Marcus Rashford mural creates 'solidarity' during adversity

Marcella Jepson-Jones with her sister Dolly Jepson-Jones and grandmother Lynda Swire leave roses at a mural of England player Marcus Rashford in Withington, Manchester

STREET art like the Marcus Rashford mural is a crucial medium for the public to express solidarity and overcome "messages of hate", according to a leading academic.

Hundreds of notes of support have been left at the vandalised artwork in Manchester which was defaced by racists following England's defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

Rashford said he was "on the verge of tears" when he saw the mural was covered in tributes to him.

The portrait, which has been repaired by street artist Aske, was attacked after Rashford missed a penalty, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka. All three players have been targeted with racist abuse on social media.

A senior lecturer at Birmingham University who is researching graffiti as a "place making and cultural heritage tool within the built environment" said the outpouring of support at the site is the public's most "immediate way" to "physically share thoughts and hope during major moments of pain and hurt".

"Almost immediately the damage was covered with handwritten notes, glued straight over the racist graffiti, encouraging love, and respect and thanks to Marcus," Emma Love said.

"The tributes continue to grow - not only covering what lies beneath but, in a show of the true depth of gratitude and respect of the local community, far exceeds the size and certainly now weakened message of hate the portrait was damaged with."

Written messages of loss around the Grenfell fire and the 150,000 crowd-generated hearts on the National Covid Memorial Wall in London are also cited as examples of public statements using the most basic of methods - writing on a wall.

The academic added: "Graffiti is often the most direct and impactful tool used to make a point unlike any other. We see that despite being regularly seen as vandalism or criminal damage, graffiti is often the first channel of communication, for both experienced graffiti writers and the general public alike, at moments of collective adversity and grief."

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