Visitors to Stamford Bridge for our London derby against Arsenal last week were not only treated to 90 minutes of pulsating Premier League action on the pitch, but also a sight of the completed commemorative mural hanging on the West Stand at the stadium.
Street artist Solomon Souza has spent most of the past three weeks painting the specially-commissioned tribute to two Jewish footballers and a British prisoner of war who were imprisoned in Nazi death camps during the Second World War. It forms part of the club’s Say No to Antisemitism campaign and is funded by club owner Roman Abramovich.
The 12x7 metre mural has been painted on a wall on the outside of the West Stand to mark Holocaust Memorial Day today, which this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz. See the video below for a time lapse of the mural being painted.
Souza is well-known for his art around the Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, where he has created over 250 murals, predominantly featuring famous Israeli and Arab personalities. A Londoner who immigrated to Israel in his late teens, the 27-year-old was thrilled when asked to take on such a unique project.
‘It’s an amazing opportunity for me to work with Chelsea and the fact it has such a cause and purpose linked to the Chelsea shirt is incredible really,’ he told the official Chelsea website.
‘I wasn’t that aware of the club’s previous work in this area but I’m so amazed they do so much incredible stuff around Holocaust remembrance and antisemitism. I’m honoured to be a part of it.
‘I’ve always loved the beautiful game but haven’t been much of a follower. A lot of my friends are Tottenham supporters and you hear stories of the rivalry between Spurs and Chelsea. I know in the past sometimes that has gone in a religious direction with chants so this was something I really wanted to be involved in.’
The mural was officially unveiled at an event at the Bridge last week, at which Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Bruce Buck and Anita Asante joined Chelsea fans and invited guests. It has since been completed by Souza, with the help of a certain American Blue.
‘It was a lot of fun,’ explained Souza of Christian Pulisic’s involvement in the painting. ‘He seemed to really enjoy it. He’d never tried spray-painting before and it was an amazing experience for myself obviously.
‘He helped me fill up a whole corner and it’s there in the final piece so he’s technically painted a corner of the mural!
‘It’s been incredible for me to be involved in this project but just to know about the work Chelsea do in this area is amazing. It was beautiful to hear and just warmed my heart.’
The video below has a message featuring Frank Lampard, Emma Hayes and Cesar Azpilicueta about the importance of learning from the past.