A new mural of a community champion and photographer has appeared in Liverpool

A new mural of community champion and photographer Leroy Cooper has appeared in Liverpool.

The artwork created by John Culshaw, famous for his range of murals across the City of Liverpool, was commissioned by local charity Mandela8, and has added to Granby Street’s growing status as a cultural arts corridor of Liverpool 8.

Locals have seen the mural develop day-by-day on the feature wall of the Ganby Adult Learning Centre with a wave of excitement building over the past few weeks until its completion. The end result is a stunning tribute with a strong message from Leroy himself:  “My work is my legacy, photographs, painting, poetry and philosophy…. Self respect and dignity… But… love is everything”.  

Sonia Bassey MBE, Chair of Mandela8 said: “This has been a while in development behind the scenes.  Leroy Cooper was an innovative and creative man, way ahead of his time in his thinking, and he documented the people of Liverpool – Liverpool 8 in particular – for over 40 years. There is no other photographic records of the Black community like Leroy’s and that deserves recognition. The stunning mural of Leroy adds to the work Mandela8 has been doing to change the face and fabric of Liverpool 8 and how it’s perceived. It is a fitting tribute to Leroy and his family, installed before the first anniversary of his passing. May Leroy continue to rest in peace and his family take comfort in knowing Leroy was well respected in our community and will always be remembered for his work and ability to hold love in his heart.

We are delighted that Liverpool City Council allowed us to use this wall for the mural. John Clushaw is an amazingly talented artist, and it has been a privilege for Mandela8 to work with him again. We have already seen a real excitement about the work developing and we envisage –  like all John’s work – it will become another major attraction for visitors”.  

The completion of the new mural comes ahead of the anniversary of Leroy’s passing and as his family have just been informed that Leroy’s photographic exhibition in the Museum of Liverpool has been extended for a further 6 months.  

Stephen Nze, Mandela8 Ambassador, who has been leading site management said:  “It’s been a pleasure and an honour for us at Mandela8 and for me personally to have worked on this project of one of the most influential individuals of my generation and our community, and it is fitting that it is located on Granby Street where a lot of Leroy’s influences and creativity and artwork were manifested and then unleashed on our city. Leroy was a one of a kind, and we all knew him and he knew us all.Rest easy bro in that cosmic heavenly universe”.

Leroy’s Family said: “As a family, we are extremely proud and honoured that Leroy has been recognised in this way. This mural is a perfect way to represent and pay homage to Leroy’s contribution to his art, community and Liverpool. As a creative, Leroy would have been immensely proud that his peers, friends and community have paid tribute in this manner and we as his family are eternally grateful to the people of L8 and proud of the artistic achievement Leroy accomplished in his life. We hope this mural can inspire a younger generation to follow their passions the same way Leroy followed his because he never stopped dreaming and he would want the next generation to dream equally as big. 

John Culshaw, Artistsaid: “ I didn’t know anything about Leroy until not long before he passed. When I painted the Nelson Mandela piece, Leroy got in touch with me, to congratulate me and we had a little chat on the internet. I thought Leroy was a cool, interesting guy. When Sonia and Nze approached me about the mural, I had to do a lot of research and speak to a lot of people who knew him. It was after doing all this research I realised just how important he was to not only the L8 community, but the whole city.  As an artist today I am lucky to have the luxury of social media, meaning I can reach a huge audience, making it so much easier to forge a career from my passion. Leroy decided to follow his passion a long time before any of this help. He followed his dream and is an inspiration to all young artists coming through. His work is a perfect example, that if you do what you love, you will produce quality and that will be recognised. Leroy’s work has seen him become woven into the fabric of this city and more importantly become part of its history. This mural will stand in the heart of Leroy’s community and serve as a reminder to those who knew him, how one man can have such an impact on the world. For those who don’t know Leroy, I hope the mural will make them want to look him up, because his story is inspirational and will help a lot of people.”

A man standing in front of artwork being sold at a market stall.

Follow the artist, John Culshaw, on his Instagram page @john_culshaw86 and for more information on Mandela8, please visit mandela8.org.uk.

Photo: Daniel Cooper

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