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Artist Nikita Spires from Louth creates street art with a purpose to share plight of wildlife

An artist is creating art with a purpose in Lincolnshire by highlighting animal welfare issues and wildlife through her creativity.

Nikita Spires who is originally from South Africa, has lived in Lincolnshire since she was seven-years-old and is known as the ‘badger girl’ after one of her most prominent murals gained attention.

She now lives near Louth.

“I’ve always been passionate about art since I was young and could hold a pen,” said Nikita.

“In Africa I was painting flamingos at the age of three and I was obsessed with painting them.

“We moved across to the United Kingdom and I learned English.

“Art has always stuck with me, I have always drawn and painted.

“Animals have also been a big part of my life as I grew up on a farm and they have ended up becoming an important subject matter in my art. I studied at school, college and university, it is my passion.”

Nikita has travelled all over the world with her art, most recently to New York and previously to places as far away as Australia and Bali.

“I ended up travelling and doing street art overseas.

“Melbourne is unreal with its street art, even a town like Toowoomba in Queensland has a great scene.

“Everywhere in Australia there was always street art. I was so inspired by it.”

Her travels made her realise that at home in the UK, there was a lack of street art.

“Sure there is a lot in London and Leeds and the big cities but not in small towns so much, especially in Lincolnshire.

“I’ve done a few here and it’s a massive thing.

“I did a load in Australia and no one cared about it.”

And her murals gaining attention has taken Nikita by surprise.

“When I do a mural in Louth, suddenly everyone knows me as the ‘badger girl’ and everyone wants to talk to me about it, I found that a bit crazy,” she said.

“Going through Australia, I realised that there is a lot of opportunity and there must be so many people making a good living through street art.

“And it is completely plausible.

“Throughout school and university I have always had teachers tell me that I am terrible at painting and that I can’t be an artist.

“They told me to pick a ‘real’ career path or they encouraged me to go the route of installations and creating contemporary art instead of painting.

“I went to Australia and I’d pretty much given up in my head.

“I saw all this street art and thought if all of these people can do it then so can I.

“I had a go on a free wall in Melbourne and realised that it is pretty fun to paint on walls.

“Afterwards, I looked at different agencies online and signed up to one.”

And despite her own doubts, Nikita has always had one person rooting for her.

“My dad is my biggest supporter, he has helped me come up with ideas. He has always been there for me.

“My dad has said to me quite a few times, you have painted your entire life, you can do it, trust your hands, your hands will just do it for you. That resonated with me and helps me when I create my murals.”

Inspired, Nikita started painting animal murals in her area upon her return.

“There are a lot of important stories around Louth that need to be told about animal welfare and a lot of my work here has been to spread a message to speak up for the animals. It is difficult because the weather here is not great, it rains a lot and the walls are wet.

“The cost of living also doesn’t help.

“People do not get paid enough money to spend money on art, murals or artists.

“In Australia, people seem to have more excess income and they commission murals in their homes.”

Nikita said that most in the community seem to enjoy her art which adds colour to the streets in the area.

“The only bad feedback people have had is that when I did the badger mural on a dead tree they thought my paints had killed it but I only used environmentally friendly paints and the tree was already dead when I started.

“There’s a badger clan living there and three died in one week because people drove so fast and killed them.

“I created it to make people aware of the badgers crossing.

“Most people had had positive comments and think that it enhances our area.”

Nikita has also mentored other artists and taught others how to paint street murals.

“I’ve taught people how to be mural artists, what paints to use and how to get jobs,” she said.

The biggest job Nikita has completed was on the Mister Roses warehouse in Sydney where she created a bunch of abstract roses.

“My hope is that street art becomes more popular and more accepted in small towns,” said Nikita.

“In big cities it isn’t an issue, you have the Arts Council who offer decent money in the big cities.

“I think the Arts Council could pick up its weight and invest in artists in small towns more.

“I think if younger people saw this, they would be inspired.

“When you live in small, rural communities in England you don’t see musicians and artists making it.

“That can affect creative people producing great work in the future.”

Nikita’s work has drawn attention for several of her pieces including two swans located in North Somercotes.

The powerful piece of art is a memorial to two swans that were killed in the area last year.

The shocking discovery was made by a member of the public in South Somercotes.

The swans were reportedly found in their nest covered in blood, with several eggs missing.

“A lot of my work revolves around getting important messages across,” said Nikita.

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