STIK

It started out as a piece of raw street art, a clarion call to a West London community being slowly eroded by gentrification.

Big Mother, by British street artist Stik, was typical of his work – two (yes) stick figures, a mother and baby, painted on the wall of a tower block, seemingly expressionless, yet somehow managing to engender deep emotions in the same way that Gormley’s featureless yet very human figures do.

The two black-and-white figures on a brilliant daffodil-yellow background decorated the side of Charles Hocking House in South Acton from 2014 to 2018. At 125 feet tall, it was Britain’s tallest mural, and when the flats were demolished, the by-then hugely popular artwork was removed, the bricks framed in steel and sent to auction at specialist art auctioneers Phillips, with an estimate of £25,000 to £35,000. It sold for £193,750…

Stik is an artist with a strong social conscience – he had a period of homelessness himself when in his early 20s – so don’t go thinking he’d sold out. The proceeds of the sale went to charity Artification, a free art programme for residents of Charles Hocking House and the surrounding area.

The first unofficial, socially conscious murals by Stik – he’s not as mysteriously anonymous as Banksy, but likes to keep a low profile – appeared on his home turf of Hackney, East London, in 2001. The simple figures, inspired by Japanes calligraphic characters, celebrate the importance of community spirit, and and he often works with hospitals, charities and homeless organisations. 

Born in 1979, Stik keeps himself to himself, although he’s very open about that period of homelessness in the early 2000s. It was then that he started to paint his murals, despite having no formal art training, and is generous in crediting fellow street artists at the time for their help and support.

His relationship with the community is hugely important to him. Every location is carefully researched, and he insists on having the support of those living in the area (although not necessarily that of the local authority!).  

He also keeps a careful eye on his work, returning when he can to keep them spruce and well-maintained. “You have to work with the building and the street, so it becomes a real collaboration with the city,” he told auctioneers Christie’s last year. “If you’re just slapping your image on a surface, you’re not really engaging.”

Stik’s work is now highly sought after, with pieces in the private collections of his-profile collectors such as Elton John, Bono, Chris Martin, Brian May and the Duke of Kent. But you can see it for free, not just in London, but also in New York City, Berlin, Osaka, Utsira in Norway and Amman in Jordan. His Brick Lane street painting, A Couple Hold Hands in the Street, was recently named amongst Britain’s Top 20 favourite works of art.


It started out as a piece of raw street art, a clarion call to a West London community being slowly eroded by gentrification.

Big Mother, by British street artist Stik, was typical of his work – two (yes) stick figures, a mother and baby, painted on the wall of a tower block, seemingly expressionless, yet somehow managing to engender deep emotions in the same way that Gormley’s featureless yet very human figures do.