Street-Art Nature Magic by Nico Roman
Abstract: In this urban myth, a secretive young street artist activates his own creativity, magnificent murals and a touch of magic, inspiring an entire generation through an epic struggle to save his city and the world’s most vulnerable, threatened living creatures from destruction.
Judges Commentary: This piece of writing blew me away… The story is raw and authentic in its storytelling. One can see fantastic descriptions of imagery throughout the story. The author has a great command not only over the language, but also over vocabulary. This story reads like a lyrical poem and has been successful in delivering the message the author wanted to deliver. The story shows that the author has a wonderful sense of philosophical things. This piece of writing, according to me, will certainly resonate with the readers. There is a writing talent who will go much ahead in his writing career.
Read the full story below 🙂
Street Art Nature Magic by Nico Roman Cordonier-Gehring
In the first rays of dawn, a secret
street artist peeled away from the wall as his shimmering sprays whispered the
last sapphire, emerald and scarlet streaks across the blackened industrial
slabs. His new endangered species mural was finally finished!
On the sooty cinderblocks of the
deserted factory, Shimmer had painted a lush green bamboo grove with an anxious
family of velvety Giant Pandas, their ivory and ebony faces gazing out of the
mural with concern. In the foreground, the dusty cinnamon coats and clasped
coppery paws of two distant relatives, Red Pandas, sheltered in a candyfloss
cloud of a cherry blossom tree. And in the distance, the emerald bamboo shoots
of their habitat splintered away, as the ominous claws of new roads and
railways crisscrossed their horizon.
The artist slipped quietly away across
the shadowed slate rooftops, his ragged jacket, indigo bandana, dark jeans and
battered high-tops fading into September’s city skyline. Shimmer’s smile glowed
softly. His hopes were high that his message would be heard. People would
understand and help to halt the destruction. Shimmer’s purpose was simple – to
activate art against the Conglomerate Inc. The industrial oil, biofuel and plastics
corporation had built itself a twenty-story steel rat’s nest as a global
headquarters in his city. Conglomerate Inc’s strategy was to control the
nastiest projects in the cheapest, most desperate places in the world. They
paid governments to look away while profits piled up, then disappeared, leaving
behind degraded ecosystems, poisoned communities and changing climates for
others to clean up or simply, hopelessly endure.
Shimmer was frustrated. He had vowed
to wage a one-boy crusade. His art was to be a voice for the most vulnerable
creatures – animals, insects and plants who were losing their lives while
Conglomerate Inc’s terrible toxic spills, angry asphalt scars and plastic
processing plants advanced. But in the end, maybe he was just one sad kid, alone
with his spray cans in the night, trying for a better world. And unfortunately,
he seemed to have no real chance of winning.
By October the city was buzzing with
rumours. Through local schools, parks and markets, people murmured: “he’s like
a pixie, skipping across our rooftops to leave sparkling, colourful messages.”
Kids took photos of the murals which went viral across Instagram and Twitter, getting
over a million hits. But in the halls of power, debates tasted like bitter
deceit and vengeance. “This creep will vandalize our city and annoy property
owners – we must stop him!” growled the industry council. “He is just a petty
rebel – and he is laughing at us!” bellowed the corrupt Mayor and his cronies.
In November, the authorities played
their next, catastrophic card. Shimmer was declared a danger to the city, a
terrorist. Anyone who could identify him was offered a thousand pounds reward
and a golden medal. But they could not
find him. Ironically, as the authorities hunted Shimmer, the city grew ever
more famous for its magnificent, magical, multi-hued murals.
In December, on the side of an
abandoned, bankrupt Toys-R-Us store, Shimmer streaked an elegant sage,
butterscotch and aquamarine Leatherback Sea Turtle being strangled by garish
crimson plastic clown masks, while rainbows of delicate Dragonfish, lacey forests
of kelp, convoluted corals and silky Tiger Tail Seahorses danced across a
turquoise ocean floor.
Covering an annoying billboard
advertising glittery nail varnish, Shimmer sprayed a congress of ginger
Orangutans swinging away in terror from the slashing roar of a steel chainsaw,
the oily coils of diesel smoke curling above charred rainforest soils.
“He’s a leopard – going anywhere he
wants each night!” grumbled the Chief of Police. Posters reading ‘Wanted – Dead
or Alive!’ were plastered on every smoke-stained lamp-post. They hung from
chain-link fences. But all through January and February, Shimmer would fade
into the mists at dawn, slinking silently away alone. Every time they increased
the reward or instituted a new citywide search, he would just paint more
furiously, until he was finishing a new mural every other night.
No-one knew where his art would strike
On the dank brick of the Tesco’s
across from a blighted petrol station, against a backdrop of radiant stars and
cobalt-stained aurora borealis, a silent alabaster Polar Bear and her
two small cubs gazed sadly over the city, reflected in a spreading stain of oil
that cloaked the icy aquamarine Arctic sea.
There were over ten million Instagram
followers by March, and street merchandise was starting to appear – T-shirts,
mugs and tea towels with Shimmer’s images. The authorities were baffled, and
Conglomerate Inc increased their security, installing angry alarm bells and
searchlights that pierced the city sky at night, further annoying the
One April night, Shimmer nearly met
with disaster. He was crouched on the Guildhall fire escape, painting the last
iridescent glimmers into a metallic Azure Hawker Dragonfly’s wings, hovering
over a calm willow-ringed wetland pond next to an open, bleeding sewer. Dark
vans came cruising by, then screamed to a screeching halt and a patrol
clambered out, surrounding him and forcing him into a side-alley. Two grim,
iron-grey men with pasty, angry faces came out of the smog in dark, expensive
coats – it was the Mayor and the CEO of Conglomerate Inc, so close he could see
their twisted grins as they arrived, television cameras tracking their
As the boy backed further into the
dead end, a rope-ladder suddenly slung down beside him. Shimmer scrambled for
his life, his battered satchel swinging wildly as he shot straight up, then
slipped across the shingles, sliding down the next dark drainpipe and away.
For all of May, armored trucks crowded
the streets, searching for the artist. It angered the local people even more,
but after his narrow escape, Shimmer was afraid he’d have to give up.
Then help came from an unexpected
direction. The city’s youth, thousands of kids, took to the streets for
Shimmer. They clambered the rooftops and alleyways every night, balancing on
brick walls and dancing parkour over chimneys, wearing bandanas of all colours,
carrying battered satchels, sporting paints of all kinds and ragged jackets. As
the undercover struggle wore on, alarms began to peal every hour in different
wards, triggered by his admirers, and Shimmer would slip into the shadows as
yet another ‘kid artist’ placed hands above their head and turned smiling into
the powerful police torch beams, only to be proven innocent later.
Still, by June, Shimmer was exhausted,
worn down to the bone from the pressure of his craft. His risky strategy was
becoming more dangerous. It was time for his last hope.
He dug deep into an old chest in his
quiet attic room. Nestled in newspaper fragments was a legacy box of special
paints from long ago. He dusted them off, and carefully dripped a few precious
drops of each shimmering liquid into his special lucky set of spray cans. Then
he pulled on his indigo bandana and ragged jacket, slipping off into the night.
Shimmer’s most important new mural was
destined for the wall of Conglomerate Inc itself, looming high above the city
centre. He needed every bit of his stealth and skill to bypass the cameras and
guards, shimmying like a charcoal leopard up the elevator shaft.
In his final message, Shimmer’s city
itself, in luminous sprays, formed a chain of friends and allies. The children were
standing tall on foundations of schools, libraries, urban gardens and
galleries, all glowing with life, their hands raised up. In their palms were
protected the most vulnerable creatures of the world. The animals marched
proudly onwards, circled by a mosaic of beautiful birdlike figures.
Once he had sprayed the contours,
Shimmer reached for his special spray-cans.
Into the gleaming ivory arcs of the
lost Elephant and Black Rhinoceros tusks, he added a spritz of Desperation,
then swirled in two splashes of Strength and Survival. Into the accusing eyes
of the advancing Gorillas, he mixed jets of Resistance and Hope. Across the
placards of protesting youth and the petitions of supporting citizens, he
blended shades of Inspiration and Solidarity. Slashing the curving howls of the
CEO and Mayor, their faces fully revealed as their frozen forms tumbled
endlessly from penthouse heights, he dripped Justice and Bitter Defeat.
And into the quiet, shadowy figure of
one lone street-art crusader, armed only with his spray-cans, Shimmer painted Victory.
By July, the world had changed. A new
city government had been elected, with a Mayor who vowed to cleanse the town of
corruption and protect nature. The CEO and senior executives of Conglomerate
Inc were indicted after a dawn raid of their global headquarters and the firm
went bankrupt. The Mayor and all the politicians that had been paid off were
investigated and imprisoned. A Street Arts Council was established to celebrate
Shimmer’s creations, and the city experienced an eco-tourism boom as people
travelled from all over to visit the magnificent, marvelous and extravagant
Shimmer himself, of course, was never
found. Every magic has its price and every ghost his moment. But he is
watching. Somewhere in the world, if a new depredations begin, a ragged figure
with indigo bandana might peel away from a nearby mural, tucking his paints
into a battered satchel, to begin again as the spirit of his generation.
 Special thanks
to all my family, my godparents and my English professor Grandmother for all
their advice, ideas for word choices and images, and help with the tricky spellings
over nearly 3 months of work, and 10 re-writes. Especially thanks to my brother
for helping to make a really long list of great creative words for different colours.
I think I used nearly all of them.