Street artist's war game mural appears on wall in Kentish Town

Bakery owner says he wishes it was a picture of cupcakes

Thursday, 14th July — By Lara Bodger

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Bernadette Briggs takes a look at the new artwork in Wilmington Terrace

A MURAL of Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky appeared in the heart of Kentish Town on Monday.

The artwork was created by esteemed graffiti artist Loretto, whose work has appeared in several London locations. Loretto, often compared to Banksy, satirises political issues and a previous mural depicted Sadiq Khan moonlighting as a stripper.

The new mural in Willingham Terrace has led to different interpretations. Francesca Scotti, who lives nearby, believes it to show a game of rock-paper-scissors and said it was “quite representative of what’s going on – they’re playing a game to see who will hold on for longer”.

Another onlooker, architect Sam Stork suggested that Loretto had “reduced the brink of World War III down to a children’s game”, adding: “Maybe it’s a good point.” Not everyone is so keen, however.

The mural sits on the side wall of Nina’s Bakery, and business owner Hassan Mayow said he did not think Loretto had permission to do the work.

He only became aware of it as the artist put the finishing touches to it. “I would have been happy if it was cupcakes,” he said, but did not want world politics and war on the side of his business. Loretto, who keeps his identity anonymous, is no stranger to ­controv­ersy.

His 2017 mural on a building in Gray’s Inn Road of the Queen lifting her skirts to reveal an anarchist ­tattoo was wiped on Camden Council’s orders after being deemed offensive, even though it had been commissioned by a local business owner.

Another passer-by, Bernadette Biggs, said street art makes the neighbourhood more interesting. She initially loved Loretto’s take on the political situation, interpreting it as the two men shaking hands.

But on closer inspection, she said she thought it was “really sinister” that Putin’s hand had been painted like a claw and was closing down on Zelensky making a peace signal.

While there are different views on what the artwork’s message is meant to be, however, scores of people have stopped to take a photograph of it since it was completed on Monday.

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