Across the North West, street art has become a focal part of articulating and reflecting civic culture in recent times.

The city of Carlisle is now also home to an exciting burgeoning street art scene.

Thanks to the work of Ben Heslop, director of Carlisle's Landmark Street Art, talents from as far afield as Austria have brightened up our streets.

For Mr Heslop, bringing international artists to the city, as well as empowering local talents, is his life passion.

"Through my business I found myself immersed in a rich cultural scene that spreads all over the world. But where I lived, there was nothing! So I set about changing that because of the impact public art can make on a place, especially where there wasn't any."

One of the local artists Heslop worked alongside is Martin Evans, whose best known piece is a depiction of Aira Falls in the city centre.

He added: "Ben has been massive in giving local artists opportunities. Add to that the international names he has been able to attract and there's a massive cross-section of people who have been able to get involved, from university graduates to experienced street artists."

"My Aira Force piece was my first piece of street art. I'm itching to do more now. The reaction to it was incredible, I was over the moon. It was a talking point and reaction was generally positive. It was nice to think it was brightening up people's days and bringing a smile to their faces."

"Street art is evolving in the city and it's now becoming more accepted. Cities now can become like a public art gallery; it makes it accessible to everyone."

"For people getting one form of exercise a day at the moment, having that art there is great for people, particularly with galleries now currently shut."

Ben Heslop is now calling for local councils to make a real effort to ensure that public art is recognised for the impact it can have on helping an area to regenerate as cities like Carlisle look to emerge positively from Covid-19.

"It's more pertinent in these testing and trying times with high streets decimated that different ways of engaging with town centres are found, which local councils must now look into. The positive effect of people engaging with art work for regeneration, community engagement, social awareness is well documented."

Cross party City Councillors were in agreement with regards to the merits of street art.

Councillor for Denton Holme Karen Lockney stated: "It’s important we don’t just think of art as something that exists in galleries and museums.

"Many bigger cities in the UK have amazing, vibrant street art, and it is exciting we are starting to see some of that in Carlisle. Street artists who show respect for the environment and can enhance it through their skilled work have much to offer."

Stephen Higgs, Culture, Heritage and Leisure portfolio holder for the City Council concurred adding:

"The art has added colour and vitality to our streets and anything that cheers up the city is a good thing."

He confirmed plans are afoot to help build upon the work that has already been done, after the pandemic.

"We want to attract the right sort of street art, not just graffiti and are looking into the best ways to do that."

Mr Heslop added: "Councils are very positive about public art but city councils now must take ownership of the next step. It comes down to cold, hard cash and I'm hoping money will be made available for projects going forward. Artists are still in their studios, paying rent and I hope that local councils realise that they need to help to fund public art."