Rich Mix arts centre in Bethnal Green to reveal 40-ft mural to thank the NHS

NHS mural

The mural is a collaboration between the award winning arts centre, social justice charity Paint the Change and acclaimed street artist ATMA.

A 40-ft mural celebrating the diversity within the NHS will be unveiled on the façade of the Rich Mix arts centre in Bethnal Green.

The mural, named “200 Nationalities, One NHS” is made up of 136 individual vinyl adhesives applied to the building’s award-winning moveable aluminium panels.

It features a portrait of a young Londoner, an NHS health worker and hundreds of hand-drawn flowers crowdsourced from across the United Kingdom.

“Focusing on the positive”

Paint the Change, a social justice charity tackling urgent social issues through street art, created the mural in collaboration with street artist Atma, known for his portrait-focused street artworks.

The project came about as a way to continue to promote diversity and have a positive impact on the community in spite of lockdown restrictions.

“We realised it was more than 200 nationalities who work [in the NHS],” said Atma.

“Everyone is different so every flower is different. Some people were cured by NHS staff, some had family members as part of NHS. We wanted to focus on the diversity within the NHS and express our thanks for their work.”

Exploring the theme of diversity was also the motivator behind the main theme in the mural: flowers. “Everyone can draw flowers. We wanted to create an artwork that everyone can contribute to”, said the artist.

Street artist ATMA
The artist chose flowers as a symbol of inclusion

“Focusing on diversity is a positive thing. I really believe everyone should have an equal place, and equal space. It was about focusing on the positive, as opposed to focusing on negative.”

A crowdsourced effort

Youth mentor Efe Ezekiel and young people across east London also helped co-create the mural. Young people attended workshops hosted by the charity, where they contributed to the artwork.

The artist also invited members of the public to submit their own flower designs for inclusion in the mural. Paint the Change said they received almost 250 flowers over the course of the initiative.

“Celebrate culture”

Located in Bethnal Green, the Rich Mix arts centre hosts a variety of multi-media programmes. They are geared at bringing together the local community through inspiring cultural offerings.

Rich Mix arts centre sign
Rich Mix, a cultural landmark in Tower Hamlets, is hosting the mural on its façade.

“We want to bring diverse communities together to celebrate, to debate, to talk about culture and what it means,” said Rich Mix CEO, Judith Kilvington.

“We’ve got representation of diversity through the flowers, and I think [the mural] represents the diversity of Tower Hamlets”.

With two thirds of residents classifying as ethic minority, the borough of Tower Hamlets ranks among one of the most diverse in the capital.

“We’ve been working with young people in Tower Hamlets to help them feel seen and acknowledged,” said Paint the Change producer Saleem, “and like they are agents in their own lives and communities.”