High Peak artist's new work sends message of antiracist solidarity inspired by Marcus Rashford

A High Peak artist inspired by the heroic activism of footballer Marcus Rashford has added his talents to the outpouring of antiracist solidarity which has countered abuse of England’s Euro 2020 stars.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 8:49 am
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 9:28 am

Hadfield stencil artist James ‘Deggy’ Degnen created his first portrait of the Manchester United forward for an upcoming exhibition, but was moved to update it when Rashford became a target of racist abuse following England’s defeat in the European championship final.

James said: “I can't help but admire Marcus on so many levels. He has done nothing but incredible things to help the country and raise awareness for food poverty over the last few years and he is only 23 years old.

“I have so much admiration and respect for him. If I could only do a small amount of what he has done to help people, I would die happy.”

The updated painting makes a powerful statement.

Like millions of people all over the country, Manchester City fan James was won over by Rashford’s campaign over the over the past 18 months to ensure that no child would be left without food during the pandemic and beyond.

Rashford carried the hopes of millions more as he walked to the penalty spot in the shootout against Italy, only for some to instantly turn against him and his teammates when they missed the decisive kicks.

James said: “To wake up to hear that the scum of the earth have struck again firing racially fuelled attacks at Marcus, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho – no one deserves this.

“It was a mixed bag of emotions taking over me, mainly rage and sadness and the question why would some people stoop this low after someone has done so much good in the world?”

Artist James Degnen with his kingly portrait of Marcus Rashford.

Wishing to add his voice to those defending and supporting Rashford, James adapted his image with the slogan “English when we win, black when we lose” – echoing similar sentiments voiceded by many people of colour.

“The England national team have made our nation proud over the last six weeks and for the first time in my life I felt a connection with our team. There is no ego in the squad, everyone is focused on the end goal and everyone wants to achieve.

“I plan on painting this piece ten times bigger than it already is here. I feel that it shows a sense of accomplishment and that is exactly what Marcus has done.”

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