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Artist defends mural linking Nigel Farage and Adolf Hitler

Artist defends mural linking Nigel Farage and Adolf Hitler

Edinburgh artist Michael Greenlaw has defended his latest work which portrays Nigel Farage next to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

The large artwork, which features Hitler, Oswald Mosley, Nick Griffin and UKIP leader Nigel Farage with the question ‘Evolution?’ in the top left hand corner, was erected outside St John's church in Edinburgh on November 29.

Michael Greenlaw has been involved in the St John’s mural project with the Artists for Justice and Peace for the last 32 years.

Mr Greenlaw said he hoped the art would provoke conversation and defended the decision-making process behind his latest piece of work.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

“I think it is good to talk,” he said. “We don't claim to know all the answers, so to engage in dialogue is very important.

“This current one is to do with the rise in popularity of UKIP in the UK as a whole.

“There is a question mark in the title because it is having people think.

“For me, there are connections that go back, like intolerance of other people. That is what I see with the UK Independence Party and that, on a much bigger scale, is what Hitler was about.

“I think we can certainly benefit from the influence of other people in other cultures.”

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

The decision to show this mural was taken in November following a conversation with the church. Michael then researched images and created a small drawing which was then scaled up for the mural.

He spent all of Saturday and a couple of hours on Sunday morning painting the mural and said he had around eight people stopping to offer their support of the work.

“I think certainly in Scotland the support for UKIP is not big and it would be good if it was kept that way,” the 59-year-old said.

“We are lucky having the SNP as an alternative to Labour and the Tories but in England they are not so fortunate and I know that some English people have lost faith with the Tory and Labour parties and therefore are turning to UKIP and that's very, very sad.”

David Coburn, UKIP MEP for Scotland, commented on the mural yesterday, saying he thinks it could help UKIP gain votes in Scotland.

“I am sure all it will do is make UKIP-leaning Scots more determined to vote for UKIP. I think it will backfire on them,” he said.

“When they have tried that sort of thing in England, it has failed miserably because all it does it make people say, 'wow, so you think I am some kind of primitive, do you? Oh well, up yours, I am going to vote UKIP'.”

Mural comparing Nigel Farage to Adolf Hitler will ‘backfire’, says UKIP

Read More

Michael says the notion that the art would generate more votes for UKIP in Scotland would be a “tragedy” but says he doesn’t think this will be the case.

“If that were to happen, then it would be a tragedy but let’s hope people are more sensible,” he said.

“I think people are more sensitive and more aware, so I don't think that will happen.”

The mural is scheduled to remain on the prominent Princes Street spot for two weeks unless, as Michael says, the “church bows to pressure and gets it painted over quicker”.

He is already busy working on the next mural which will be called Gifts from the East.

“There is a bit in the Bible about the wise men bringing gifts from the east to the stable so we are working on the characters who will be bringers of gifts. One of them will be Malala.”

After speaking to David Coburn and Michael Greenlaw, we took to Princes Street to find out some of your opinions to the mural.

Dave Baillie

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

"It makes you think," the 59-year-old said. "I don't find it offensive and I like a bit of politics around. It doesn't bother me that it is on a church wall.

"I don't think the mural is going to change anyone's voting intentions but I do think it is a thought-provoking thing."

Ricky Houston

"It is not offensive," the 58-year-old said. "It is good to have freedom of speech unless it is something that is really going to incite violence because that is a different thing altogether. But freedom of speech is important."

Kenny Sharkey

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

"They worry the death out of me these people, they really do," the 53-year-old said. "It is an extremism I never thought I would see in my lifetime and it is very worrying.

"Especially in the context of us voting not to go independent and now we are looking at this swing to the right down south which is much more pronounced down there than it is here. I think people have a right to make statements like that.

"I know this particular church on the corner is well known for the murals. I remember the Mandela one years ago. I think people just know that's what happens at this corner. I don't find that controversial at all, I think it is a fair point being made."

Gary Wilson

"Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it wrong here," the 51-year-old said.

"My immediate thought walking up was that it is way off the mark. I am not a UKIP voter and I don't agree with their policies but it is a million miles away from deportation to Madagascar that Hitler was planning with the Jews - it is miles away."

Janet Thomson

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

"When I saw Nigel Farage and then I saw Hitler at the back with 'Evolution?', sarcasm is the word that comes to mind," the 43-year-old said.

"I am not a huge fan of politics but what I know of this chap I am not very impressed by him at all.

"I studied in Edinburgh, came from Inverness, and I was thinking about how I felt when I came to Edinburgh as a student at 17.

"It is quite nice walking along Princes Street and seeing these kinds of images which you don't really see out of the city. It does create a talking point."

Patty Franc

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

"These murals are always controversial," the 33-year-old said. "They always make you think. I think it is really smart what they are doing here."

Stephen McMurray

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

"I think it very good," the 40-year-old said. "It certainly gets people talking about what the politics of UKIP are all about.

"UKIP are quite clever in the way they present things but I do think that politics are dangerous when they start blaming immigrants for the social problems of our society. It is not immigrants that caused the banking crisis, it's economic failure.

"I fear that we might get a Tory/UKIP government down south in May, I think that would be horrendous."

What do you make of the mural? Send your thoughts to us on Twitter and Facebook.

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