This weekend, I got the best Easter gift ever.
I haven't got a sweet tooth, I've already got a garden full of flowers and I don't really do hats - so chocolate eggs, bouquets and bonnets were thankfully off the menu. Best of all, I wasn't expecting anything. And this present wasn't even just for me.
But whilst I was absentmindedly posting some letters ready for Tuesday's first collection, I saw the most wonderful new piece of street art. Right at the end of my road.
Here it is:
This depiction of Kate Moss's now infamous Playboy shoot of last year is on the side of the Betsy Smith pub on Kilburn High Road, and was popped up there without ceremony over the long Bank Holiday weekend by the increasingly high-profile street artist Pegasus.
What a gift! I'll now see this every single day I leave my flat. And the thousands of other folk, from all walks, who pound Kilburn High Road every day, will also see this Pegasus work and have a little bit of art injected into their life, amongst the carbon monoxide choke, chain shops, billowing rubbish, beggars and drunks on this beloved but battered stretch of London street.
I've lived here for 14 years, and this is one of the best things to ever happen in my hood. The colours make my heart sing, I adore Kate Moss (who doesn't?), I love the racey, knowing pose and the lovely, kind conceit that she's an Easter bunny gift from Pegasus to the streets of NW6 - it's just too delicious.
Fittingly, the Betsy has a magical Narnia theme to it's interior, so it's perfect that Kate is now here on the outside, and err, not on the wall of sausage roll lords Greggs on the opposite side of the road.
Pegasus on the whole asks the property owners before embarking on a work too, so hopefully, Easter Kate will be in Kilburn for a long time yet. The worries of the recent Banksy row will hopefully not arise here.
I've been a huge lover of art all my life and the egalitarianism of good street art, and the cultural democracy of allowing anyone, from any walk of life, to enjoy art whilst they go about their daily lives is truly something to be celebrated in my opinion - when done right, as Pegasus has done in so many ways.
An American artist originally from Chicago and now based in London, Pegasus is in the new breed of street artists who are determined to enrich urban environments and distance themselves from the dull graffiti taggers of yore - he's not even that fussed about being anonymous and when you're doing good for charity, which he often does, that can only be applauded. (I DJed at a charity function for the Amy Winehouse Foundation and bid in the auction for a portrait he'd done of the Back to Black singer and am still so sad it went past my budget...)
Pegasus's focus on figures in popular culture (the aforementioned Amy, the Queen, Marilyn Monroe, Tom Daley and Kate Middleton have all been subjects) mean his works are even more accessible to people who wouldn't normally have their head turned by art. He often has a political message to his stencil work too, which only adds to its value imho.
A caveat here from me - I'm the kind of art fanatic who queued for an hour to see the two Van Gogh Sunflowers oils last week, and I've been a Banksy fan for a long time. In fact, in a somewhat convoluted way, I used to work with Banksy in the early 2000s and even went down the pub with him once. I could have bought numerous prints by him at the time (every editorial meeting I had for an 18 month spell was surrounded by them, stacked up against the wall of the office), but I never had a few spare hundred quid (oh if only I had now...)
But this informs my joy now. The fact that anyone in Kilburn, whether they have 20,000 quid or 20p in their pocket, can enjoy this art every day of their lives from now on is immeasurable. Street artists like Pegasus in London and all over the UK are proving that art can make lives better and in these straightened times of austerity, anything that can raise an appreciative smile towards art should be applauded.
Maybe there will be some people who see it who then go on to hunt down more street art, or maybe risk a gallery, or like me, become possessed with getting to the new Matisse collage exhibition. With cuts hammering more conventional routes for artists to get noticed, it's heartening that artists like Pegasus are taking matters into their own hands and sharing their aesthetic joy.
And because it's Easter, I think I'm allowed to say I reckon that's eggshellent...