Worldwide accaim as Sheffield city centre mural scoops global prize for local artist
A former Sheffield Hallam student has won a prestigious art award for his large mural on the front of a Sheffield shopping arcade.
Will Rea, known as Willustration and aged 24, won the World Illustration Award for his large public mural, Workings of Sheffield, which extends along the facade of Orchard Square in Sheffield city centre.
The artwork was started in October 2019 and completed in March 2020, and required three separate fixed scaffoldings to reach the brickwork that was Will’s canvas.
Will won for the award for his category Site Specific, meaning that the illustration must be made for and enhance a particular place or space.
He said: “I felt ecstatic and extremely humbled. It was a very very arduous task to create this piece. I am happy that Sheffield can finally enjoy this recognition and I hope the people of Sheffield can celebrate with me.”
Will was one of 20 people to win an award from a pool of over 5,000 applicants from 82 countries. He said this commission, which he took on in October 2019, allowed him to quit his day job at a screen printing factory in Kelham and work full time on art projects and teaching art.
He added: “To start with I was worried that I couldn’t recognize it as a full time job. But since realising people are enjoying what I created I am happy I can afford to work on creative projects full time."
Before starting this piece, Will had made murals at other locations across the city, including one at Leadmill and another at Twinkl HQ on Ecclesall Road.
The Orchard Square mural was his largest undertaking in terms of size, it measures 30ft x 50ft and was completely by hand-painting with a brush and roller.
Will said: “The mural references the colourful can do attitude of the people of Sheffield and the vast industrial heritage. I started off working with these bright colourful patterns but I also wanted to reference Sheffield’s history.”
Working on the mural raised Will’s profile and he will be working on more public art pieces in the future, with more murals in the pipeline.