From Anne Lister in Shoreditch to a giraffe in Last Tango in Halifax. How a stencil artist’s passion for Gentleman Jack caught the eye of Sally Wainwright.

 

Thursday 12th March 2020

 

When a mural of Anne Lister, the swaggering heroine of Lookout Point’s hit BBC drama Gentleman Jack, appeared in Shoreditch last year and promptly went viral on social media the show’s writer Sally Wainwright was keen to find out more about the artist behind it. The production team soon tracked down Anna Jaxe, a South London stencil artist, who had been inspired to paint the mural on discovering the inspirational true story of Anne Lister via the TV series.

So when Sally and the production team realised they were going to need an expert artist to help them create the giant giraffe that mysteriously appears on the side of Gillian’s barn in episode 2 of the new series of Last Tango in Halifax they all knew exactly where to turn. At Sally’s request the team made contact with Anna who then spent a number of days in Yorkshire last September turning a short description in the script into a huge, colourful, Banksy-esque reality!

Talking about her experience Anna Jaxe said:

“Sally is an absolute legend and to be involved in a project she is working on is immense. The incredible experience of painting a giraffe wearing high heels (his name is Percy) in the beautiful surroundings of the northern countryside will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life.

The desire to paint Anne Lister was intense. The fact that there was a show about a 19th Century Lesbian on primetime BBC blew my mind. As a queer woman and artist, I greatly admire people who share their stories to help others, so naturally I felt the need to commemorate her in my own way.”

In the aftermath of her mural’s success the engagement Anna received from Gentleman Jack fans online inspired her to start #QueerVisibilityProject. This is a series of murals she started in 2019 which are dedicated to celebrating the diversity of people representing queerness in the media, with subjects so far including: Tegan & Sara, Hannah Gadsby and RuPaul.