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heartbroken Artist Terry Bradley says vandalism will only spur him on to make more murals

It was a kick in the teeth,” Terry says.

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Terry Bradley alongside his mural, 'Don't Look Back'

Terry Bradley alongside his mural, 'Don't Look Back'

Terry Bradley alongside his mural, 'Don't Look Back'

Terry Bradley says the senseless vandal who defaced his Bangor mural has spurred him on to create more street art.

The Christmas Day attack on the mural of his painting ‘Don’t Look Back’ left the artist gutted.

He’d painted the side of the High Street building last June to support the local community and was left speechless when a crude image of a penis was daubed on it.

Terry has no idea why anyone would attack his work and suspects the culprit was drunk or on drugs.

But he was heartened by the response to the vandalism and has vowed to carry on with his plan to paint more distinctive murals in the area.

The artist, whose work is sold around the world compared the graffiti attack to the burglary on his Belfast city centre gallery in 2016 when thousands of pounds worth of originals and prints were stolen.

“We were cleared out completely and we hadn’t been able to get insurance and I was devastated. It broke my heart,” he says.

“The feedback after that helped me come back and this time because people feel they are part of this I have got their support and strength and confidence.”

The mural has become a local landmark with local people and fans of Terry’s art flocking to have their pictures taken next to it.

It’s on the side of a building he uses for customers to come and record why they’ve bought his art pieces, who often share emotional stories. Terry has been open about his mental health struggles and embraces customers sharing their own difficulties.

“It’s for recording life stories and I wouldn’t ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. People come in with their piece of art and sit down and tell their story. We try to help people. We’re like a family.

“For a lot of people, especially men, it’s the first time they have shared this stuff.”

When he discovered the mural, created with local artist Friz, had been vandalised so crudely Terry says he was speechless.

He’s spent the months of lockdown protecting his staff’s jobs, looking after their wellbeing and dealing with his own stress by painting, so the senseless attack on his efforts to cheer up the community were a blow.

“It was a kick in the teeth,” he says.

“It wouldn’t have been so bad if it had been another graffiti artist, but this was horrible. I was lost for words.

“They went to so much trouble to destroy something in the most awful way possible. I’m sure they were on drink or drugs or something.

“If they are prepared to destroy such a positive thing I don’t know if you could save them. I don’t know if these people are for turning.

“The only positive thing was that people wanted it back up on the wall again.”

The artist debated painting over the bottom of the mural until local businessman Aaron Morrow from MALL Valeting and Detailing came to the rescue and was able to fix the damage.

“He said he works with paint and he just wanted to help out. He came along and washed it all off,” says Terry.

The restoration of the mural has galvanised his plan to create more unique artworks in the area.

“High Street is the best of Bangor with more independents where people put more into their shops.

“I always had the intention to add more walls. That was the starting point and after this I’d like to do it.

“We’ll have more walls like that for people to become proud of it,” says Terry.

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