17 March 2022
A large-scale photo-realist wall mural painted on The Marlands Shopping Centre, was unveiled at the weekend.
Painted by local artist, Slam Daniels, along with Neil Edwards and Flash1, the mammoth piece of art depicts local 70s band the Ebony Rockers. It was revealed to all on Saturday 12th March at a special launch party, which included music from Maka Sound Foundation and catering by Jerk Pan at Flourish.
Solent Showcase Gallery, GO! Southampton, The Marlands Shopping Centre, and Don John, founder of Black History Month in Southampton, were behind the project, designed to celebrate the culture and diversity of Southampton, and specifically the impact the Ebony Rockers has had on the city.
Ebony Rockers were very successful right across the south and its legacy has been wide reaching. This includes influencing contemporary talent such as Craig David (whose father was in the band) and rapper Tyrone Gordon who has recently signed to Sony’s label Relentless.
Slam is an international street artist from Southampton who as a teenager was a member of Beyond Graffiti, a youth and community project led by city youth workers Mike Banks and Jacquie Lee in the 80s and 90s. The project aimed to inspire young artists, poets and writers in Southampton.
Giles Semper, Executive Director of the GO! Southampton Business Improvement District (BID) and speaking at the event, said: “I believe we’ve achieved the perfect combination of artist and subject for this mural. Slam is a world-famous street artist but has never painted in the city centre. Ebony Rockers is a seminal band in Southampton’s musical history.
“The mural is a great example of the kind of thing that can enliven the city centre and bring more visitors as the city bids to become UK City of Culture 2025.”
Reggae band Ebony Rockers, burst on to the music scene in 1979, and against a backdrop of politically and socially vibrant times for the African-Caribbean youth across the country, eight teenagers from Southampton began playing music.
Don John, who was also Ebony Rockers’ manager, added: “Ebony Rockers were an inspiration to local people in inner-city Southampton and gave the local Black communities something they could be proud of that reflected their culture.”
And, as Southampton bids to become UK City of Culture in 2025, the painting is a great way to express the true culture and diversity evident across Southampton. It will pave the way for other similar projects if the city’s bid is successful.
Tim Keeping, General Manager of the Marlands said: “As such an established shopping centre in the city, the Marland’s was keen to support this exciting piece of public art. At a time when diversity is being celebrated, thanks to Southampton’s prominence in the City of Culture ranking, the mural perfectly represents the history of contemporary music in Southampton in a modern art form and we are pleased to be able to play our part.”