Graffiti artist Robin Clark 'outs himself' to restore Bransgore's smiley bench
A BANKSY-STYLE graffiti artist has unmasked himself so he could return to Bransgore and repair an uplifting artwork he secretly created 10 years ago.
When the huge ‘Smile’ message first appeared overnight on the Burley Road bus shelter in the village, rather than demanding it be scrubbed off, the local community took it to their hearts.
It has since become a popular focal point, earning the name the “smiley bench”.
But the identity of the artist, like famous street artist Bansky, has remained a secret – until former local boy Robin Clark revealed it was he who painted the original artwork.
When he heard it was starting to fade, he asked Bransgore Parish Council if he could return to restore it to its former glory.
Robin said: “Luckily they agreed. It took me about three hours and at the end of it I stood back and had this really rewarding feeling.
“It felt so right, especially after all the tough times with Covid, that the bench was back making people smile again.”
He said he had lots of beeps from motorists as he was working and people “kept coming up to me saying how much they loved the smiley bench”.
Now a tattoo artist in London, running Birdshoes Tattoos, he said he first painted the smile picture “to change people’s views on graffiti”.
Robin said: “I wanted it to be a positive thing, which it quickly became. My grandparents lived up the road and I was worried I would get in trouble if anyone knew it was me who had done it.
“I thought it would be immediately scrubbed off, but people really took the smiley bench to their hearts.”
Mr Clark had intended to keep his identity secret but realised that to restore it he would have to out himself.
He said: “I’m very proud of it. I’ve had tough times during Covid, with tragedies in the family, as I am sure many people have.
“To be able to make people smile again is a real privilege.”
A spokesperson for Bransgore Parish Council said: “We are delighted with the smile painting in the Burley Road bus shelter. It really brightens up the bus stop and is uplifting and a pleasure to look at – in fact, it does make you smile!
“We’ve had many compliments from residents and are grateful to the artist Robin Clark for the time he gave to paint it.”