In 2021 we wrote about Noah whose art project, choreographed by his stepdad Nathan, during the first COVID-19 lockdown became a media sensation. Noah, a young teenager who paints under the name Background Bob, was born with hydrocephalus and he also has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The art project was a way to provide a focus and some structure during the COVID restrictions.
The idea was that ever smiling Bob – Noah – would paint some A4 cardboard (easily sourced, easy to post) backgrounds and invite artists to collaborate by adding their work. A simple yet great idea that snowballed into an international project with contributions from many established street artists. The resulting exhibition – Background Bob and his Amazing Friends – held at Firstsite in Colchester, displayed all 240 of the works. There was a sellout book with proceeds going to his local children’s ward and the works were all sold in a frantic eBay auction and raised almost £100,000 for the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity. A truly amazing achievement and a proper good news story to come from the pandemic.
The project went so well and was so well received that Noah and his family decided to do it all over again in 2021. The new exhibition, again at Firstsite, has just finished its run. Taking the title “Background Bob and his amazing friends – guess who’s back?” it is the product of another 250 artists, care workers and members of the general public who responded to the call in spring 2021 to team up with Noah. The lineup this time is no less impressive than the first time around with a whole host of street and urban artists clamouring to be involved. In a wander round the gallery last weekend we were met with a smorgasbord of works including collaborations with 7th Pencil, RX Skulls, Ben Eine, Zabou, Fanakapan, Akut, Lost Hills, DS, Jay Sharples and Alice Pasquini. Once again there is a book cataloguing the artwork (available here) and the pictures will all be auctioned at the end of March 2022 to raise, we hope and expect, lots more money.
There aren’t enough superlatives to express what Noah has achieved over the last couple of years. In the future we will hopefully have COVID-19 behind us and we will remember the tough times we and our loved ones have had to endure. But we will also remember the good things that were catalysed by the pandemic. The enthusiasm of Noah and his family, along with the almost 500 artists who have contributed to date, Firstsite for hosting the exhibitions and those involved in producing the books are right at the top of that list.
Check out Noah’s Instagram account @background_bob to find out more.
The Street Art Directory is an independent website showcasing the works of the world’s street artists. The site currently presents gallery pages for 1400 artists with works from (so far) 5 continents. More artists and works are being uploaded all the time. You can receive emails with news about updates by signing up here.