Villains and Heroes

By The Artist

Brindley and I were out and about one day when we came across a unique and unusual piece of art. Amazingly, we happened to be looking at the artwork when The Artist responsible was standing near by. He explained he was very lucky as the owner of this boat let him use his boat as a canvas and gave him free rein.

As with many great creative minds, The Artist wishes to remain anonymous, and for the art to speak for itself. 

I jumped at the opportunity to find out more about this unique artwork. And was most gratified when The Artist agreed to be interviewed.

Does the artwork have a name?

“I suppose you could call it ‘Villains’ or you could call it ‘Enjoy your Towpath’ it is drawn and painted in the fashion of traditional roses and castles for narrow boats. With mountains, castles and bridges…”

Could you talk me through the different elements of this painting?

“The ‘rathaus’ is actually German for the Town Hall which I think is a far better word to describe the Councils. I think CRT are under their thumbs regarding policy and dictating policy regarding the towpath.”

“The notice about the parking charges is that, in hospital car parks, Council staff usually get free parking but NHS hospital staff have to pay for it. And there’s quite few NHS staff kicking off because they have been fined – because they are working longer shifts they can’t get out to feed the parking meters.”

“The big black knobbly bridge is to do with CRT’s logo which I think is awful.”

“There’s a report about tyres that came out on 27th May regarding tyres recovered in oceans and rivers… and its got knobbly bits on it because the CRT have nicked the logo from this tractor!”

New report reveals tyres are a major source of microplastics found in the marine environment

“If you look at the tractor carefully you will see that it has a tyre on the far side, but there isn’t one on this side.”

“Here’s the Policeman with his big boots and pointy head and this is the farmer who is green for the grass… The policeman is saying ‘where?’ (is the tyre) and the farmer is saying ‘it’s behind you!’ … its like a panto!”

“This bit of orange netting is because we see it all over canal as they put netting around things that need fixing and then they don’t do anything about it for ages.”

“The rushes are there too because the canal is so overgrown at the moment.”

“That’s a lock with a paddle which is covered in tape which also needs maintenance by CRT.”

“The ginger bread men are all walkers on the towpath. And because of these cyclists (a lot are well behaved but there a few who are really irresponsible and who are dangerous) the gingerbread men have had to flatten themselves against the hedge to get away from the speeding cyclists who won’t slow down.”

“Boris bike bonus (he’s giving £250 million of tax payers money to improve cycle ways) so between CRT and local councils who will both be holding their hands out, and by the time they get together you may as well write off the towpath. They are saying more cycles are being sold now than at any other time… and where will they go?”

They say the tow path is safer than the road… but its not. It is for cyclists but not for us.

“The narrowboat is called NB £ note – this is because boaters are paying quite a lot of money to CRT (I realise its only a percentage of their income) for their licenses and they don’t seem to be getting much value for their money.”

“The little sad face is in there because he’s miserable. A lot of boaters will have received an email from CRT to say if you can’t social distance then get back on your boat. So you have all these cyclists and all these pedestrians who don’t pay CRT money to use the tow path. And the boater who contributes money to CRT is expected to hide away.

“That ‘enjoy your local canal.’ which is on CRT signs at the moment – and yet there’s only a small bit and cyclists who are a nuisance, they can’t read it.”

“Villains is painted on the gunnel so that the person who owns the boat can just keep walking over it.”

“Most of the people on this picture, apart from the pedestrians and the bloke with the tractor, they’re all villains.”

“That’s why I put heroes at the front of the boat.”


“Here we have a square rainbow because the curve has been flattened. The man holding a gun is the 1914/18 soldier. He is also a hero. I never put the modern soldier in the other side. The middle of the rainbow is the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a rainbow tunnel.”

“There is thank you in several languages. Originally I put ‘NHS ta’ but someone passing by said they didn’t know what that meant so I put Danke and Merci too.”

Are you planning to create more art?

Well… the person who owns the boat is so pleased with what I have done so far that he is letting me paint on the other side.

“I’d like to move into a more positive space going forward.”

“This isn’t normally my medium so I want to see how it is received but you can expect to see something new in the next month or so.”

UPDATE: see blog about the magnificent work on the other side here!

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