The 'Burley Banksy' - Meet the Leeds United fan making the city beautiful
Walking along the street can be quite dull at times, but primary school teacher Andy McVeigh, also known as the 'Burley Banksy', is hoping to make some people's journey's a bit brighter, covering up graffiti with his artwork that he's painted onto objects across the city of Leeds.
For the past 18 months, despite being a self-confessed amateur, the 49-year-old has been livening up these boring objects with Leeds United-themed murals, with designs inspired by classic shirts, badges, song lyrics, quotes, and players.
His artwork has become popular amongst Leeds United fans, with McVeigh gaining almost 8,000 followers on Twitter, despite never using social media before beginning these paintings.
McVeigh was given the nickname the 'Burley Banksy' by his friends, a nickname he now uses when signing each of his murals.
Speaking to All Things Leeds, McVeigh describes why he decided to start spending vast amounts of time and effort painting these objects. He said, "There are lots of boxes where I live that are covered in graffiti, so me and my friends started painting over them just with trees and flowers, and then I was walking down to Elland Road one day and saw quite a lot on the way to the match and thought it'd be nice to do some Leeds United ones for the fans and make like a pathway to Elland Road, so that's where it came from.
"It sort of started with one, and then another one, and then I ended up doing about 20. Some people liked it so I kept going. Leeds have quite a good history of cool badges, cool designs, so it all comes from that really. It's quite a lot of hours, probably 8 or 9 hours, usually three trips to a box."
McVeigh simply paints these murals in the hope of putting smiles on people's faces, improving the aesthetics of the city and to honour the club he supports. His artwork leading to Elland Road has become part of the match day experience for many Leeds fans.
However, in September 2019, 14 of McVeigh's murals were destroyed. A group dubbed Leeds Residents Against Graffiti took responsibility for covering McVeigh's artwork with black paint. Murals around Elland Road were targeted, including one which was dedicated to the late Gary Speed, which was ruined the day before the Leeds legend's 50th birthday.
The group emailed the Yorkshire Evening Post to explain their reasons, where they claimed to “represent the 90% of the citizens of Leeds who are not obsessed with Leeds United,” promising to cover up all of the murals across the city, something McVeigh described as "pretty gutting."
He added, "They painted 14 of them black so it was a lot of hours down the pan, but I've just about got 'round to re-painting them all now so they're nearly all back to their former glory now."
McVeigh received huge support, with many fundraising to help him repair the damage that had been done.
And Leeds United Football Club, together with Leeds City Council and Virgin Media, have commissioned McVeigh to officially decorate objects surrounding Elland Road, meaning it would now be a criminal offence if anyone attempted to deface his artwork. The club also offered him and his son complimentary tickets for his extraordinary efforts.
"The club gave me some money to re-paint them. People said it meant a lot to the city which I never dreamed it would mean that much to people, it's been lovely."
"I get requests all the time, I get people all over the city now wanting one in all the different suburbs. I don't know if I'm going to be able to do one in every suburb in Leeds, but I have done one in Rothwell because I'm originally from Rothwell.
"I've got loads (of new ideas) in my head, loads in my little notebook, some more ones planned for near the stadium, especially if we go up. I've got loads of promotion ones in my head, fingers crossed."
It's not just objects in the street that Andy McVeigh paints, he also puts brush to canvas.
Coming in many different shapes and sizes, McVeigh paints his designs onto canvases which he then sells to Leeds United fans across the country. When asked why he started selling these canvases, he said "People started asking for them, so I put something on Twitter and they sold out straight away.
"I've started doing quite a few now and I'm setting up a business and there's going to be a website soon so hopefully I can do more painting and less teaching in the future.
"I've got loads more orders to do. Hopefully, it'll continue."
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