When the Ojo Rojo journey started, it was just a twinkle in our eye. Over the 3 year process to get us to opening day, it changed and shifted into its own entity, enticing people to work on it and help make it something unique. The creative pieces that are located around the building are testament to that. From small pieces like our bespoke and elaborate door handles, our up-cycled custom light fittings, to bigger pieces like our featured internal street art and our enormous copper tree canopy dressed with copper-framed fabric leaves and enchanting lights, Ojo Rojo represents an injection of unique originality within a concept that has a deep attention to detail.
When we found the venue that we wanted Ojo Rojo to call home, we were saddened that the beautiful long wall running the stretch of the building was in a terrible state of disrepair and being such a large canvas it was constantly a target for tagging and graffiti. We were aware that once the wall became our responsibility, according to the lease we would bear the financial costs of the upkeep of the wall, including the removal of any graffiti.
It changed and shifted into its own entity, enticing people to work on it and help make it something unique
We have seen that most senseless taggers and graffiti artists tend to respect murals and large art pieces, so we had a vision for a street art piece that would deter unwanted vandalism, and also welcome people to The Triangle, fast becoming the artisan quarter of Bournemouth. It was perfect for a monument to our dedication to creativity and also to liven an otherwise dull road. We didn’t want to fill it with branding or shout about our presence with it. Instead we wanted to create something unique that could be appreciated by all. Something that merged Mexican vibrancy with a UK subject, but was not offensive or political, yet still triggered a spark of emotion. It was a difficult concept and we were not sure how the outcome would be received.
Our tenancy provides that non structural changes are permitted, so long as they are reinstated upon exiting the lease, it was therefore determined that we could commission the mural and paint over it any colour necessary when vacating the premises.
With this in mind, we spoke to well respected local artist Krishna Malla, pitched our concept and let him run with it.
Together we decided that animals were good, inoffensive subject matter that are adored by the public, both young and old. After a few back and forth sketches we concluded that adopting the UK native owl and merging it with a colourful style often found through the buildings of Mexico and Guatemala was a great combination. There was a lot of thought that went into the planning, motivation and desired outcome of the piece, and Krishna understood and delivered. The mural took over two weeks to complete and created a strong buzz about what we were doing with the building. It was magnificent.
Sadly, we were contacted by our landlord and made aware of a clause deep in our lease that requires approval for any outside colour schemes, and because it had not been approved, it would need to be removed.
We apologised profusely and appealed for retrospective permission, with a guarantee that we would of course remove it upon leaving the building, this was not enough. We fought with quotes of support from council members, local officials, business owners and hundreds of community members. We demonstrated the value that it brought by establishing us as a business, aiding our success and therefore ensuring us as reliable tenants, if we are successful in the area then other businesses will begin to invest in the area and the property (and rent) prices would increase – a direct benefit to the landlord.
Unfortunately, to keep the mural we were presented with a financial ultimatum that we could not meet, and so with no other options available to us, on Thursday 7th of July we begrudgingly said goodbye to our beautiful mural, as it was replaced with our brand blue.
The reaction to its removal on social media has been inspiring and we wish to convey our appreciation for your support and kind words regarding the artwork. We knew it would have an impact on the community, but just to the extent, we could not have known. We are currently working with the landlord to try and come to an agreement going forward, we are doing everything we can to bring back that injection of culture and colourful vibrancy that so many of you (us included) loved to much.
The reaction to its removal on social media has been inspiring
For the moment though, we are so proud to have been able to create something so unique and colourful in an area that deserves a high level of creativity and individuality. We intend to keep bringing this level of inspiring work to the area with some exciting plans internally to add to our growing artistic collection!
Once again, we thank everyone for their kind words and apologise for our oversight in the clause that led to the removal of this much loved piece of artwork. We have good photos of it though (courtesy of Alex Dixon) and there will be some prints of it within Ojo Rojo very soon.
We hope you all pop in and have a tequila in celebration of Krishna’s work of art.