Pop-up gangster gallery transforms town eyesore

Artistic protest – John Bulley shows off his artwork on the buildings

Artistic protest – John Bulley shows off his artwork on the buildings

First published in News by

DREARY derelict buildings have been transformed by an artist with a penchant for gangsters and hard nuts.

Michael Caine in his famous role as Jack Carter, Bob Hoskins as the nutty gangster in the Long Good Friday, and the notorious Kray twins now stare down ominously at passers-by in Southchurch Avenue, Southend.

The houses, part of a seafront site due to be used for development of flats, shops and a hotel, have lain empty for years, attracting vandals and antisocial behaviour.

Artist John Bulley said he had grown tired at looking at the eyesore site and decided to do something about it. He said: “It’s a pop-up gallery, a piece of urban art.

“The first time I went there with a friend we put on high-viz jackets and hard hats to hide in plain sight and no one took any notice of us. No one batted an eyelid.

“People seem to love it and have said it’s brilliant. It’s had such a good reaction.”

Mr Bulley, 63, from Southchurch, added: “It’s a protest at all the twee stuff you see all over Southend.

“These are tough characters and you simply can’t ignore them.”

The artist, who worked on film sets including Harry Potter, created the pieces in his studio before putting them in place.

He said: “I measured the windows and worked out the perspective of the drawings so they would fit properly.

“Two of them were done on wallpaper lining and just glued up early in the morning like a flyposter.”

The work is also a protest against what Mr Bulley sees as a lack of support for local artists from Southend Council and arts group Metal, which has received Government funding for its projects, including the Village Green festival.

Mr Bulley, who is one of those behind the Estuary Fringe, alternative art festival due to take place in August, said: “The reason those paintings are stuck up on that derelict building is because we – the local arts community – have had nowhere to go, no spaces to show our stuff and no support.

“It was done as a wake-up call.

We have formed our own alternative festival, which is totally inclusive and totally free for all local artists and musicians, again as an act of frustration at having no support system for the local art scene.

“Metal’s PR don’t want the ordinary types, apart from one day a year.”

In response, Colette Bailey from Metal said: “We support all kinds of different art of all disciplines and in lots of different ways.

“If John wants to come and see us about any help he might need we would be glad to talk to him.”

IMPRESSIVE ART CAREER

John Bulley has worked on film sets, including Memphis Belle and Harry Potter.

His murals and urban art includes pieces on building sites, pubs and even a few churches. His work has brightened up London Zoo and Camden Lock Bridge and he has two pieces outside Ten Green Bottles in Rectory Grove, Leigh.

Mr Bulley has organised the Estuary Fringe Festival from August 2 to 10. The free festival of art, music, drama and poetry kicks off with a 12-hour event in O’Neills pub in Luker Road, Southend. For details of other events visit the Estuary Fringe Festival Facebook site.

Comments (16)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

6:50am Tue 29 Jul 14

Now say thank you says...

Great to see those fictional characters, but to show Ronnie and Reggie Kray, might evoke a storm
Great to see those fictional characters, but to show Ronnie and Reggie Kray, might evoke a storm Now say thank you
  • Score: 4

6:54am Tue 29 Jul 14

The King of Southend says...

No Danny Dyer?

He's proper naughty.
No Danny Dyer? He's proper naughty. The King of Southend
  • Score: 5

6:59am Tue 29 Jul 14

RuleBritania says...

He might like them but I'd this really the image we want for our town?
I'd like to see this replaced with something positive that doesn't depict a pair or murdering deviant scnm bags.
He might like them but I'd this really the image we want for our town? I'd like to see this replaced with something positive that doesn't depict a pair or murdering deviant scnm bags. RuleBritania
  • Score: 2

8:21am Tue 29 Jul 14

Richy don't shine shoes no more says...

Can't wait to see this.
Can't wait to see this. Richy don't shine shoes no more
  • Score: -2

9:22am Tue 29 Jul 14

mr.happy says...

Ron & Reggie, nice! Perhaps you'd like to put Peter Sutcliffe or Jimmy Saville up there too?
Ron & Reggie, nice! Perhaps you'd like to put Peter Sutcliffe or Jimmy Saville up there too? mr.happy
  • Score: 6

10:17am Tue 29 Jul 14

John Right says...

mr.happy wrote:
Ron & Reggie, nice! Perhaps you'd like to put Peter Sutcliffe or Jimmy Saville up there too?
Not forgetting those infamous pervs Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall...
[quote][p][bold]mr.happy[/bold] wrote: Ron & Reggie, nice! Perhaps you'd like to put Peter Sutcliffe or Jimmy Saville up there too?[/p][/quote]Not forgetting those infamous pervs Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall... John Right
  • Score: 0

10:39am Tue 29 Jul 14

Nebs says...

It is most appropriate, and shows visitors what to expect when visiting the town. Might I suggest adding a mural of hundreds of people in a queue all looking at their watches, entitled Southend A&E.
It is most appropriate, and shows visitors what to expect when visiting the town. Might I suggest adding a mural of hundreds of people in a queue all looking at their watches, entitled Southend A&E. Nebs
  • Score: 2

10:43am Tue 29 Jul 14

I-say-you-say says...

Jeez! What a bunch of ungrateful so and so's you all are!

This guy has taken his time and own expense to make an effort to stop the area looking like the derelict s-hole it is!

If he put pretty sunsets and pictures of flowers they would have just been covered in graffiti in seconds. By choosing this theme he's hoping the "deviants" may relate and show a little respect.

It's a brilliant idea and if people managed to get their heads out of their proverbials, they may see the method behind the madness and appreciate what Mr Bulley has done!
Jeez! What a bunch of ungrateful so and so's you all are! This guy has taken his time and own expense to make an effort to stop the area looking like the derelict s-hole it is! If he put pretty sunsets and pictures of flowers they would have just been covered in graffiti in seconds. By choosing this theme he's hoping the "deviants" may relate and show a little respect. It's a brilliant idea and if people managed to get their heads out of their proverbials, they may see the method behind the madness and appreciate what Mr Bulley has done! I-say-you-say
  • Score: 19

12:02pm Tue 29 Jul 14

Quercus says...

Well done to John and his team, looking forward to the Estuary Fringe Festival, the more diversity and creativity we have in the town the better! Unfortunately I'm going to be out of town for much of teh festival, but hope to be back to catch the latter part!
Well done to John and his team, looking forward to the Estuary Fringe Festival, the more diversity and creativity we have in the town the better! Unfortunately I'm going to be out of town for much of teh festival, but hope to be back to catch the latter part! Quercus
  • Score: 2

7:02pm Tue 29 Jul 14

the25man says...

A different form of graffiti
A different form of graffiti the25man
  • Score: -3

10:43pm Tue 29 Jul 14

The King of Southend says...

Now go home and get your f***ing shine box.
Now go home and get your f***ing shine box. The King of Southend
  • Score: 1

11:11am Wed 30 Jul 14

Southend's Finest says...

I-say-you-say wrote:
Jeez! What a bunch of ungrateful so and so's you all are!

This guy has taken his time and own expense to make an effort to stop the area looking like the derelict s-hole it is!

If he put pretty sunsets and pictures of flowers they would have just been covered in graffiti in seconds. By choosing this theme he's hoping the "deviants" may relate and show a little respect.

It's a brilliant idea and if people managed to get their heads out of their proverbials, they may see the method behind the madness and appreciate what Mr Bulley has done!
Well said!! Maybe some of the people who comment need to brush up on their general knowledge in order to work out the difference between a couple of East End villains, two iconic British film figures and recently investigated pedophiles. Its Get Carter, not Get Saville.
Keep up the good work John.
[quote][p][bold]I-say-you-say[/bold] wrote: Jeez! What a bunch of ungrateful so and so's you all are! This guy has taken his time and own expense to make an effort to stop the area looking like the derelict s-hole it is! If he put pretty sunsets and pictures of flowers they would have just been covered in graffiti in seconds. By choosing this theme he's hoping the "deviants" may relate and show a little respect. It's a brilliant idea and if people managed to get their heads out of their proverbials, they may see the method behind the madness and appreciate what Mr Bulley has done![/p][/quote]Well said!! Maybe some of the people who comment need to brush up on their general knowledge in order to work out the difference between a couple of East End villains, two iconic British film figures and recently investigated pedophiles. Its Get Carter, not Get Saville. Keep up the good work John. Southend's Finest
  • Score: 3

11:19am Wed 30 Jul 14

Now listen for I have something to say says...

Planning permission ? NO, they will be gone within the week
Planning permission ? NO, they will be gone within the week Now listen for I have something to say
  • Score: 1

3:27pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Maddogg says...

mr.happy wrote:
Ron & Reggie, nice! Perhaps you'd like to put Peter Sutcliffe or Jimmy Saville up there too?
What about Harold Shipman? Or Charles Bronson?
[quote][p][bold]mr.happy[/bold] wrote: Ron & Reggie, nice! Perhaps you'd like to put Peter Sutcliffe or Jimmy Saville up there too?[/p][/quote]What about Harold Shipman? Or Charles Bronson? Maddogg
  • Score: -1

4:06pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Southend's Finest says...

Maddogg wrote:
mr.happy wrote:
Ron & Reggie, nice! Perhaps you'd like to put Peter Sutcliffe or Jimmy Saville up there too?
What about Harold Shipman? Or Charles Bronson?
Derrrrrrrrr, you are totally mad you are!
[quote][p][bold]Maddogg[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mr.happy[/bold] wrote: Ron & Reggie, nice! Perhaps you'd like to put Peter Sutcliffe or Jimmy Saville up there too?[/p][/quote]What about Harold Shipman? Or Charles Bronson?[/p][/quote]Derrrrrrrrr, you are totally mad you are! Southend's Finest
  • Score: 1

9:24pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Robin Reliant says...

some of its been wreaked already, no surprise really.
some of its been wreaked already, no surprise really. Robin Reliant
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree