State of the Heart: street artist raises £3,300 with ‘Rainbow Boy’

Street art around Croydon is being used to raise money for the NHS

A Croydon street artist has been busy over the past week, brightening up the borough’s streets and raising thousands of pounds to pay for vital Personal Protection Equipment – PPE – for the NHS and a local hospice.

As Inside Croydon reported over the weekend, a Banksy-like stencilled artwork of a small boy watering a rainbow has been appearing all across the borough – and, it seems from reports from our loyal reader, from further afield, too.

The rainbow has become a symbol of hope and (socially distanced) togetherness during the coronavirus lockdown, and this piece of public art somehow manages to captivate some of the spirit that is being shown each Thursday evening, with the minute’s applause for key workers at 8pm.

The Lounge Cafe in Lloyd Park

The artist, Chris Shea, also known as State of the Art, is charging pubs, cafés and homeowners £50 a time to have the stencil added to their properties, and so far he has raised more than £3,000 from his efforts.

There are even T-shirts available with the emotive Rainbow Boy as a logo, with £3 for every sale going towards the PPE equipment appeal set up by St Christopher’s Hospice.

Inside Croydon has received “sightings” of the rainbow boy from Lloyd Park, where the renamed Lounge Café has had to delay its re-opening (although the new managers will be providing food and drinks for key workers during the emergency).

Artist at work: Shea has raised £3,300 so far

We have also had sightings from Edward Road, Addiscombe Road, outside St Mary’s Catholic Junior School and a day nursery on Haling Park Road.

The artwork has been seen in Albatross Gardens, South Croydon, and as far afield as Wickham Road, Shirley, Whitmore Road in Bromley, Langley Park in Beckenham and Melody Road, Biggin Hill.

(Thanks to all our eagle-eyed correspondents out there – Tracey Johnson, Sam Gathercole, Toral Shah, Heather Pritchard, Hayley Ekins, Peter Keik, Susan Riley, Sarah Weightman, Gavin Hughes, Penelope Bance and Sony Nair).

Shea has used his own toddler son as the inspiration for the work, and model, and has developed a previous, plant-watering design to accommodate the rainbow.

A clue that these are not by Banksy comes with the signature on this work in Shirley

Clearly strongly influenced by  Banksy, both in style and the guerilla approach to street art, Shea has never tried to pass off the works as anything other than his own, even discreetly leaving a State of the Art “signature” at one or two residential sites.

Other versions of his work, getting the message out of “Stay Safe, Stay Home”, have also begun appearing, some in more public places.

And Shea says, “During these unprecedented times I’m aiming to lift people’s spirits with my artwork. My work is my passion and a lot of my inspiration comes from watching my son grow, taking those moments and turning them into art that everyone can relate to.

“The ‘Rainbow Boy’ that I am painting on garages, houses and buildings stemmed from a photograph of my son watering our plants in the garden. I then saw the local children painting rainbows to thank the NHS for all their hard work. This gave me a feeling that there is hope in youth and it should be watered like a plant.”

By noon today, Shea had far exceeded his original £3,000 fund-raising target.

To find out more about State of the Art, or even to order the artwork for your home or business, click here for the Just Giving page.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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5 Responses to State of the Heart: street artist raises £3,300 with ‘Rainbow Boy’

  1. Reena says:

    Where can you buy the t shirts?

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