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  • Nottingham Street Artist Soz Mate Brings Colour to Derby Street

Nottingham Street Artist Soz Mate Brings Colour to Derby Street

Sozmate and his Street Art

Sozmate is a prominent figure in the thriving Nottingham street art scene. In his own words, Sozmate is a ‘Huge advocate of colour and shapes’. Ironically, Soz, or Sorry, is utterly unapologetic in his use of colour and curves to create vibrant uplifting designs. We can certainly relate to that passion - after all, our our main brand Fermob and indeed our 2023 Fermob Week competition talks about colours that liven up your outdoor space.

But we didn't expect for Sozmate to use a wall very close to our shop as his canvas! Perhaps he was out and about for #30DaysWild and couldn’t resist the previously blank white space (that to be fair had attracted a few ugly 'tags' since the picture above was taken).


Or maybe he had scouted the area before, singling out the Derby Road area as his next project for rejuvenation. He would not be alone among prominent street artists to beautify the buildings of Nottingham. Just a few years ago the most famous street artist, Banksy, decorated a wall on Rothesay avenue just a twelve minute walk from our shop. Sadly, that artwork is no longer in Nottingham, it was bought to be displayed in the Moyse's Hall Museum in Suffolk in 2021.

Street art has emerged as a powerful form of artistic expression that breathes new life into urban spaces. With its ability to transform easily ignored spaces, it has a profound impact on both the physical and cultural landscapes of cities and revitalise urban environments. By adding vibrant colours, Sozmate has created  a captivating mural near our shop that won’t fail to capture the attention of passersby, sparking curiosity and spirited debate.

Sozmate uses words like ‘psychedelic’ to describe his art and his latest piece is testament to that, with the bright primary colours of red yellow and blue dominating the design being offset by green, pink and orange details. The bold mural certainly created a buzz in our office Whatsapp group, with company founder Heather declaring “I love it”. It is hard to pin down if this style is typical of Sozmate’s art. He regularly cleans his Instagram so that it only shows recent projects, at the time of writing he has just a few posts with just two showing off his art pieces including the new addition.

There are obvious similarities between the recent piece he created in his studio and the mural he sprayed near our shop. Both are full of simple flowers and smiley faces - perhaps a homage to the Swinging Sixties and the counterculture of the hippie movement. Fitting as his art is a rebellion against industrial landscapes. The bright colours could also be his personal way of celebrating Pride, which takes place every Summer. Pride is not until the end of July in Nottingham, but perhaps Sozmate is preparing the city in his own artistic way. Or maybe we should stop all the guesswork and take Sozmate at his word that he was just 'having fun'!

If the name ‘Sozmate’ sounds familiar, that’s because you have probably seen it adorning the new Island Quarter development in the centre of Nottingham, he was hired by developers Congyar in 2022 to “Create a space everyone can enjoy”. He was hired after making a “nuisance” of himself by ‘tagging’ the site. Tagging is different to street art in that it involves a symbol or words, rather than creating art. Typically tagging is done as a way of marking territory between artists.

It also serves as a catalyst for dialogue and social commentary. Many street artists use their work as a platform to address pressing social issues, challenge norms, and provoke thought. By presenting their messages in public spaces, they spark conversations, raise awareness, and encourage public discourse on topics such as politics, inequality, and the environment.

Street Art or Vandalism?

While Soz Mate's latest mural near our shop will undoubtedly catch the attention of many, it has also sparked a debate in our office about the ethics of unauthorised street art. Like so many businesses in this position, we find ourselves torn between appreciating the artistic value of his piece and the feeling that our rights have been violated and that embracing the art may encourage other, less talented copycats.

Advocates for street art argue that it adds vibrancy and cultural significance to otherwise mundane urban landscapes. They believe it challenges the notion of art confined to galleries and museums and brings creativity to the public realm in a real and accessible way. Supporters also argue that street art can increase foot traffic, helping to boost local businesses with customers that otherwise would not think about visiting the area.

Others take the stance that street art is nothing more than vandalism. They argue that property owners have the right to decide what happens to their buildings and that unauthorised art defaces their property without consent. Critics also point out that street art often leads to the proliferation of tags and low-quality graffiti, which can degrade the overall aesthetic of a neighbourhood and attract other low-level crime.

Finding a balance between these perspectives is challenging for city councils. Nottingham has taken steps to address the issue by creating designated areas, like the Browns Tunnels underpass, where street artists can express themselves freely. These initiatives offer a compromise, providing artists with a space to create without infringing upon private property rights. However, if an established artist like Sozmate is willing to dismiss the legal spaces, then it is difficult to see it as a viable solution.

It is a difficult debate with no clear answer. Ultimately, we need to decide whether the positives outweigh the negatives. By showcasing Sozmate's mural as a point of interest, our shop has the opportunity to attract art enthusiasts, tourists, and even locals who appreciate the cultural significance of public art. It serves as a conversation starter, drawing people to the area and increasing foot traffic. The mural's bold colours and eye-catching design make it a perfect backdrop for social media posts, further amplifying its visibility and potentially attracting an even broader audience.

To encourage debate, we will be posting polls on our main social media channels to find out how customers and our followers feel about street art and its place in our streets and on our buildings. To take part and have your say, make sure to follow our Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter or our LinkedIn.  Alternatively let us know what you think in the comments below.


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