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How our best-known street artist depicted the NHS - and then immediately destroyed his work

The beautiful pair of rainbow hands in prayer mark the efforts of the NHS during the Covid pandemic - but none of us will ever see the work in the flesh.
Nath NHS Art
A still from the Reuters video of the depiction and destruction of Nathan's art

That's because Nathan Murdoch of Street Arts Hire created the striking mural last month, entitled God Bless the NHS, and then covered it over with white paint immediately afterwards. 

The secure location at Studio 4 in Serpentine Green meant that no-one could see the completed work as it took place, which was crucial allowing him to control both the existence of the piece and its destructive conclusion.

The work stemmed from the popularity of the burgeoning crypto art scene and NFT's - non-fungible tokens. These are a unit of data which certify a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. 

Recent examples have sold at high prices, and Nathan hopes that the transitory nature of this piece of work will give it an originality that can be turned into funds for charity, with all other versions of the image destroyed.

Using art as this "conversation starter" is a unique angle for an artist who was already well known for two pieces of work which put Peterborough on the global map. In 2020 the depiction of two hands on the underpass near Taverner's Road symbolised a desire for racial harmony across the world, while his other viral work in the city's 'Prodigy underpass' has become a visiting point for fans of the dance act and its late frontman Keith Flint.

Now, his latest venture has already received press coverage from as far afield as Argentina, Pakistan, South Africa and Malaysia.

Nath said of God Bless the NHS: "The idea dated back several months to a conversation with Zed Malik from Eclectic Ballroom, who asked me to do the piece but then gave me the idea of destroying it.

"I still wanted to do it, one year on, and then Reuters became involved and said they would send a crew down to capture the work. 

"The whole process would be video'd and two versions of the print would be released, to raise money for the NHS. 

"One is a physical hand customised A3 print to be auctioned on eBay and the other is an animated 1/1 NFT version which will be auctioned via Foundation.app, both from 7pm on Monday, May 10.

"Although I work as a professional street artist, my work is service based completing artwork to a customers requirements. I see this world as a place to become an artist again... but what kind of artist am I anymore?

"I thought about this for a long time and concluded I spend many days working alone absorbing music for hours and hours a day; I thought I want to start creating art like the music that inspires me, I want to create art that provokes a conversation. From having 2 paintings go globally viral, the unexpected and emotive connections I made with strangers through painting on a wall has been extremely powerful. 

"It's all very surreal at the moment; because of the strictness around the process I don't even have a photo of it myself!"

The video can be seen on Nathan's Facebook page here