Southend city centre transformed thanks to Europe's largest free street art festival

A city centre has been transformed into a burst of colour, as more than 200 artists take part in what is believed to be Europe's largest free street art festival.

Known as the Southend City Jam, guests from across the world, are painting a hundred walls across a three-day period.

200 artists have been painting on 100 walls across the city. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"It is a pretty epic scale, we have built a kilometre of walls, we have also got lots of permanent walls all over the borough and town and we have over 214 artists painting from Canada, America, Ukraine, it is global" organiser Karl Sims told ITV News Anglia.

"Public art is good for people's wellbeing and mental health, to see art everywhere is really beneficial for any town I would say."

Artist Sophie Mess perfecting her craft. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The event is laying claim to be the largest of its kind in Europe as Bristol's Upfest is taking a break this year.

Run in conjunction with the city council, it covers all the different genres in the street art culture, including photo-realism graffiti.

"I strive for those pieces that stop you in your tracks, create a dialogue, questions, I strive to not blend in in a festival like this, I want to stand out so that's why I chose this piece because I wanted to make a statement and show my talent" said street artist Jeks.

"It was extremely fun to do the eyes and the nose, the mouth, and the hair and the beard was absolutely terrifying for me."

Some of the artwork takes days to create. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Young budding artists could also leave their mark thanks to mini cubes designed for kids to paint that are dotted around the festival site.

The incredible works of art are spread across the whole of Southend, with many pieces taking days to create.

Artists say the response to their work has been "incredible" Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I think street art has an immense power to transform a place and inspire creativity, add colour, have fun" said artist Sophie Mess.

"An event like this that has so many murals going up in one weekend, it is incredible for Southend..the response has been incredible".

Much of the temporary art will remain in place for the next fortnight, while the permanent murals will be on display all year.

Visitors will be able to see the work for the next couple of weeks Credit: ITV News Anglia

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