Installed on a street in Blackfriars, London, the artwork was commissioned by Kensington + Chelsea Art Week, Jack Arts and CW+, the official charity of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
The colourful message displays the words “Better days are coming I promise” – a phrase that Ilori has been using to reassure himself during the pandemic.
“Better days are coming I promise is a message that I have been singing to myself and loved ones during the pandemic,” he told Dezeen.
“The message has been my therapist during these tough times and has given me hope when sometimes I feel like this will never come to an end.”
The artwork on display in London was created to show support for the work that the National Health Service (NHS) is doing in the UK, and for the many families that have lost loved ones during the pandemic.
“Whenever we are presented with the news on the number of lives that have been lost, and you witness the families’ pain and emotion when speaking about their loss, it’s extremely painful to watch,” said Ilori.
“You also get to see how hard the NHS staff are working to save peoples lives and I can’t imagine what it feels like for them. They must also be struggling to feel like better days are coming, but sometimes we all need a reminder that they are and it will surely come,” he continued.
“I want the artwork to give people a sense of hope and provide them with joy, bringing them some comfort where they may feel pain and uncertainty.”
The artwork makes use of pink, yellow, green, blue and orange patterns with the featured words written across its centre in a bold, neon-pink typeface outlined in black.
“I wanted to use calming and soothing colours that will ease some pain but also bring some joy into peoples lives at a time when they need it the most,” Ilori explained.
“I pray that when people walk past or look at my message on the streets of London it uplifts their soul and spirit, because we are in this together. What I do know is better days are coming and I promise, because nothing lasts forever.”
While the artwork was initially created in response to the pandemic and in support of the NHS, following the death of George Floyd in police custody and the global protests that have followed, its message has taken on additional meaning, said Ilori.
“The message has changed a lot since the brutal and unlawful murder of George Floyd who was killed in America by police officer Derek Chauvin,” he said.
“His murder hurt and angered the world, which left people with no choice but to come together worldwide and protest against racism and police brutally against black people,” he continued.
“There are a lot of things that are wrong with the world right now, but I believe these protests will bring change, and I think one thing we all share is hope, and nobody can take that away from us.”
Since the death of Floyd on 25 May, architects and designers have been showing support for the protests happening around the world in many ways. Numerous designers shared illustrations and resources to draw attention to the Black Lives Matter cause while in the US artist Jammie Holmes flew banners depicting Floyd’s last words above US cities.
Photography is courtesy of Yinka Ilori, Kensington + Chelsea Art Week, Jack Arts and CW+.