The 'Hope Lives Here' mural just behind the pedestrian entrance gate to Bensham Manor Allotments on Kynaston Road CR7 7AZ. It is a sub-set of Van Dang's 'Hope not Hate' set of wall murals in Thornton Heath. Van Dang mused "I was painting the front mural at Ambassador House, 1 Brigstock Road, CR7 7JG when the first Covid-19 lockdown struck the UK on 23rd March 2020. I was then stuck in the house for months then the death of George Floyd shook the world. I am not black, I am not white either. People rarely view me as a threat as I look little but it doesn’t mean I don’t experience racism or discrimination living in the UK." The 'Hope Lives Here' mural followed a set of key incidents in the artist's life in early 2020. Van Dang said "On 1st February 2020, I arranged to meet a group of friends to celebrate Lunar New Year in China Town London but one of my friends wondered should we cancel the meet up as there was a fatal virus spreading around China. I said we will be fine as we were living in one of the world’s most advance medical countries. 23rd March 2020, the world turned upside down. A neighbour of a friend who was in his 40s – a strong healthy man – passed away due to Covid19. Supermarket shelves were raided empty. People swirled around me anywhere I went and gave me really bad looks. I am Vietnamese so I look Chinese to everyone. Everyone was intense and then the first lockdown started. The world stood still.
There were no air planes in the sky. No traffic on the road. Central London was deserted. I didn’t know what this virus was? How did it spread? Why is it here? What do we do to stop it? I woke up every morning checking the death toll around the world. It was a very confusing time so I thought we needed a splash of colour and optimistism in our life. Therefore I painted 'Hope lives here' at the back alley of my house with the help of my son and the dog. The mural finished on Day 8 of lockdown 30th March 2020. People going to the allotment said it brings them smiles and I hope it will for many years to come."
Hunted by Averil Coutinho.
Pictures by Van Dang @freeartUK.