Manchester street artists honor arena victims with canvases of love

Manchester, England (CNN)Manchester's Northern Quarter has become a canvas for street artists in the wake of Monday's horrific suicide bombing, which claimed the lives of 22 concertgoers.

Armed with aerosol spray cans, artists are using graffiti project The Outhouse -- originally built as a public toilet block in the 1970s -- in central Manchester's Stevenson Square as the backdrop for their creative outpouring of love and support.
"What happened on Monday has just affected so many people -- people I know as well," said Tasha Whittle, 31, who started the creative project seven years ago. "It felt like we should do something because art can be really responsive and send a positive message."
    A Manchester street artist works on his tribute in the city's Northern Quarter on Thursday.
    Originally from Norfolk, Whittle -- who considers herself "an honorary Manc" -- said that the desire to paint was "instantaneous."
    She told CNN: "Today I'm going to be writing out the poem that was read out at the vigil by poet Tony Walsh. When he read it, I had goosebumps ... He managed to encapsulate Manchester for me in a poem. It feels so raw still."
    Many of the murals features bees, an image which has been associated with Mancunians -- and their hardworking nature -- since the Industrial Revolution.
    New murals adorn the walls of the Outhouse in central Manchester's Stevenson Square. Project organizer Tasha Whittle told CNN the artists wanted to "show a message of positivity."
    Busy painting in the midday sun, one artist using the local emblem is Jay Sharples, 45.
    "We don't want to turn it into a memorial; we just want to do something for the people of Manchester and show some love for the city really," he said.
    "The Manchester bee symbol is connected to the history of the city really. It seems like a nice symbol with all the tattooists doing the campaign at the moment as well so I think it's quite fitting."
    Tattoo shops around the city are offering to ink members of the public with bee designs to raise funds for families affected by the brutal arena attack.
    Those here have been hard at work for hours now, stopping briefly just once when the whole street appeared to freeze.
    As the clock struck 11, everyone in the vicinity paused -- on corners, in shop fronts, grouped in clusters next to the murals in the center of the square. Even cyclists passing through dismounted and all silently bowed their heads to join the rest of the city in a moment of silence.
    Another popular street artist, Qubek, has been sharing his work-in-progress on Instagram over the last few days.
    "I was only round the corner from it when it happened, didn't realize until later, saw two undercover police cars flying into the city up Deansgate and wondered what was going on, sad night. RIP," he told his Instagram followers.

    Second piece from today, be finishing the sides tomorrow, amazing to see the community spirit today in manchester.

    A post shared by Qubekmanchester (@qubekmanchester) on

    And it's not just local creatives who want to use their talents to offer support. When CNN was there, a London-based artist who had just arrived in the city called to ask if he could come down and paint.
    Whittle said historically the Northern Quarter was where people would come to protest and share new ideas with the community -- a feeling that she hopes the Outhouse project, which also manages other walls in the neighborhood, is continuing today.
    The inspiring murals will remain on display for a month before The Outhouse returns to their usual schedule of repainting and presenting new work every three months.