Stunning ‘peace is the way’ Mahatma Gandhi mural painted along Birmingham canal
A beautiful new work of street art has been painted in Digbeth, Birmingham, featuring a peace quote alongside a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi.
Birmingham-based artist Adam Illes painted the large scale mural on a Digbeth canal wall which calls for peace in our troubled and war-torn world.
The powerful new mural features a portrait of world renowned Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) whose philosophy to achieve freedom, equality, and human rights through nonviolent methods continues to inspire civil rights movements around the globe.
The striking new mural will not be visible to motorists due to the location where its painted, but those lucky enough to be walking or cycling along the Fazeley canal will be treated to a powerful and thought provoking piece of art.
Gandhi’s portrait is painted in mystical grayscale on a black background, and the evocative art resembles a vintage photograph with Gandhi’s serene face glowing with inner and outer peace.
A yellow edge has been delicately painted around Gandhi’s face which adds a spiritual ambiance of a halo around the historical figure who inspired key civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King.
The art also displays a yellow peace sign, based on the design used by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, with a quote written in beautiful and flowing handwriting calling for peace which is painted on the lower right of the mural: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”
The mural, painted along a stretch of canal near Great Barr Street, is the work of Adam Illes who is based in Birmingham.
Illes, 34, uses street art techniques to paint photo realistic art, geometric patterns and lines, and futuristic graphic designs.
Born in Hungary and having moved to Ireland to live and work when he was 18, Illes relocated to Birmingham in 2018.
The former hotel manager has previously painted his pop art-style graffiti across buildings, car parks, bars and public spaces throughout the city centre.
His projects include volunteer work and commissions, and one of the key themes in his art is the Sufi pursuit of cosmic equilibrium and peace.
Illes told I Am Birmingham: “I think we should start being at peace with ourselves in the first place, to make this world a better place. One step at a time.”
Speaking to Westside BID in 2019 about how he started out, Illes said: “When I was in Ireland I started spray-painting on walls in Limerick to express myself.
“But I’ve never painted an illegal piece or left my tag anywhere I shouldn’t, and I’m very proud that every painting I’ve sprayed has been entirely legal.
“I got a number of commissions when I was in Ireland and when I moved here started to look for walls where I could paint.
“I spray-painted walls in the ironing room and staff canteen at the Ibis Hotel at Birmingham Airport, and when I started working at Novotel I decorated the staff canteen and the back corridor.
“The manager was so impressed with my work that he’s now allowed me to go public by giving me a free hand to paint the car park.”
A local woman walking her dog along the Digbeth canal shared her thoughts about the new Gandhi mural.
Imani, 23, said she found the reflection of diverse heroes as inspiring: “I go past this spot nearly every day, and it’s so lovely to see this stunning new art.
“I come from a fairly diverse background and have Irish, Pakistani and Palestinian heritage, and looking at this art it really resonates with me. There’s so much hatred, division and racism and very little action is being taken to tackle these issues.
“We need unity, healing, and compassion. Peace in our world is rare right now. So many war zones, and not much peace. From Afghanistan to Syria, and from Palestine to Ukraine, all we see on the news is war and more war.
“My heart goes out to the refugees and those who have lost loved ones.”
Imani expressed her frustration with world leaders and said: “Our leaders need to stop fighting. I’m honestly sick and tired of all their rhetoric and hypocrisy. The message of peace is missing in the speeches made by world leaders.
“I’ve stopped watching the news now because there’s nothing but report after report about war. It’s mentally draining to be exposed to this nonstop barrage of war and death.
“Seeing this peace art today has been really uplifting. It’s made me smile.
“This positive and soulful art carries deep wisdom which speaks to us all. It’s artists and poets who remind us of the ways of peace, and this art is a really beautiful example of that.”