Video report by ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw, recorded before the current lockdown
A mysterious street artist has been lifting people’s spirits on the Isle of Sheppey, in Kent.
The creator has been likened to Banksy by his admirers, and has gained a large online following for his cute and quirky paintings of a mouse.
‘Moo Mop’ has so far appeared at 12 locations across the island since September, on anything from recycling bins to sea defence walls.
In his first broadcast interview, the anonymous artist – dubbed ‘Mopsy’ – told ITV News Meridian that it’s "art for the community" and "something for everyone to enjoy".
He says he hopes it’s encouraged people to “get outside, get some fresh air and enjoy the simple things in life – a walk in the woods or along the beach.”
The idea started as a personal gift for the artist’s partner.
"My wife is on the [NHS] frontline, working extremely hard and she was struggling to take a break during the day. The idea was to give her some clues so she could get out and find the mouse, and put a smile on her face."
The public works have attracted attention from all around the world. A recent treasure hunt competition for children attracted hundreds of entries.
‘Mopsy’ says the public appreciation of the works has only spurred him on to do more and more.
Local resident, Joanna Araujo, has enjoyed finding ‘Moo Mop’ while out on her dog walks.
I think it's something uplifting at the moment. We've all been through so much this year, and it's just such a nice community thing to go and explore and see the island as well.
They say the small things make a big difference, and it might be a small mouse but it's made a really big difference to the people around the island. Especially the youngsters, they absolutely love it, and it's good fun going around finding them.
Swale Borough Council had previously appealed for the artist to make contact with them. In a statement to ITV News Meridian, a spokesperson said:
"The creator of Moo Mop Mouse reached out to us and we provided him with contact information for people and local organisations that he could be involved with for any future town murals or other artwork around the borough that lifts the community’s spirits.
"While we don’t condone the defacing of public property, we won’t be removing Moo Mop Mouse."
You can see more of the ‘Moo Mop Mouse’ artworks on this Facebook page.