Giant murals commemorating two Manchester teenagers who lost their lives have been unveiled in the city.
The colourful designs have appeared on a couple’s end terrace and on the wall of a residential home and remember Rhamero West, who was fatally stabbed, and Devonte Scott who died in a police chase. Both teenagers were from the Old Trafford area of the city and both lost their lives in 2021, but now local people have teamed up with professional artists to create the bright and beautiful artworks.
Rhamero’s mum Kelly Brown told how seeing the mural in place gave her comfort and made it easier for her to walk past the place where her son was stabbed to death, aged just 16.
What are the two murals that have appeared in Old Trafford?
The mural remembering Rhamero is called A Better Tomorrow - Together We Stand and was overseen by the teenager’s mum Kelly with members of the local community also helping Whalley Range artist Amy Coney.
It adorns the wall of the care home on Norton Street, the location where Rhamero, who was also known as Mero, was fatally stabbed in September 2021. It includes a huge tree, the sun behind it, blue flowers and doves.
And at the last minute Kelly decided to clamber up on a crane to spray paint the purple heart that represents her son herself.
The artwork is accompanied by a piece of spoken word poetry by knife crime campaigner Quinton Green, who Kelly reached out to after the attack.
The tribute to 18-year-old Devonte, who died in a police chase in May 2021, is on the corner of Howarth Street and Prestage Street.
Homeowners Caroline Harleaux and Lee Andrews approached community project OT Creative Space to ask for a colourful mural to be created on the side wall of their end terrace. The gable end had become a target for graffiti after the death of Devonte happened nearby and the pair felt an artwork would be a more fitting tribute.
The result is a psychedelic-inspired mural called Can I Kick It? which features bees, rainbows, butterflies and two cats having a friendly kickabout, all painted in bright pastel shades. It was painted by Manchester muralist and children’s book illustrator Melanie Williamson, with the title coming from a song by the highly-influential New York hip hop act A Tribe Called Quest, which was formed in 1985.
What has been said about the two murals?
Kelly spoke of the personal impact having a mural at the scene of Rhamero’s death has had and heaped praise on the design. She said: “I knew I wanted a memorial to Mero and I couldn’t have asked for anything better than this.
“Amy has incorporated everything that I asked for: the circle represents my son and also the sun in the sky. The purple heart, which I sprayed myself, is also Mero. It’s beautiful, absolutely breathtaking. You have got to see it in person. Pictures don’t do it justice.
“I used to fear going on to Norton Street, reliving everything that happened, but now I find a little peace and comfort. It shows me how amazing the community of Old Trafford is. After what happened to Mero, the communities have really come together.”
Artist Melanie, who is best known for illustrating the Pirate Pete and Princess Polly and Billy and the Mini Monsters series of children’s books, said about the mural to Devonte: “Lee and Caroline wanted something that both local children and adults could appreciate, seeing as it’s a space where they hang-out and play around - something bold, and cheery and full-on psychedelic with colour.
“We gathered ideas of what animals and characters were popular at the residents’ meeting, and it was such a fun experience interacting with all the locals and passers-by. Everyone has been so friendly and says the mural really cheers the place up.”
Homeowner Caroline said: “We wanted a bright and colourful mural to put a smile on people’s faces, something full of imagination that could talk to kids and grown-ups.
“After the first consultation with the local residents, it was obvious that artist Melanie Williamson would be the one to bring this to life. The big city and the towers are there in the background, but really, it is all about the characters. They’re getting on with their lives: playing footy, listening to music, falling in love, catching up and chatting. It is a very happy place.
“The mural is named after a track from A Tribe Called Quest. They were very inspiring to a lot of young people, who looked up to them as positive role models and artists who built up their success from scratch.”
Are the murals included on the OT Art Trail?
Both murals have been included on the OT Art Trail, which was launched by community project OT Creative Space last year. They were funded by a Standing Together grant from Trafford Council.
The initial phase of the project, which was funded by Arts Council England, saw six large murals painted onto walls and buildings around the area, including in Seymour Park and on Ayres Road. The art trail total now stands at nine and a route map marking out each of the artworks can be found on the OT Creative Space website here.
Art trail founder Lynda Sterling said; “When we launched the art trail last May, it was very well received by the local community. People in Old Trafford have taken the artworks to heart and appreciate the colour, humour, creativity and individuality they represent, qualities which are abundant in the local community.
“And so when Lee and Caroline, Rhamero’s mum Kelly and other local residents asked me if we could develop two new murals to commemorate two young men I was only too happy to help.
“I think our artists Melanie Williamson and Amy Coney have done amazing jobs, working with local people, friends and families to produce two gracious tributes to two lives lost.”