Huge painting of man, 19, battered in alleged homophobic attack

A Welsh artist has painted a portrait of the bruised face of a man battered in an alleged homophobic attack in Liverpool city centre.

The painting of Josh Ormrod, a 19-year-old bisexual man who was attacked on Fleet Street on Thursday, June 17, is hanging in the window of an arcade on one of the busiest streets in Cardiff opposite one of the city’s most popular LGBT+ venues.

Josh’s viral Instagram post detailing the assault now has more than 380,000 likes and more than 13,000 comments.

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The artist, 31-year-old Nathan Wyburn, has previously presented portraits to celebrities like Mariah Carey, Dame Shirley Bassey, Prince Charles, and his personal favourite, Joanna Lumley.

Nathan, who is from the valleys just outside of Cardiff and is a frequent visit to Liverpool, told the ECHO how seeing Josh’s Instagram post was quite tough.

Nathan Wyburn's paint-covered fists as he makes a portrait of Josh Ormrod's bruised and bloody face
Nathan Wyburn’s paint-covered fists as he makes a portrait of Josh Ormrod’s bruised and bloody face
(Image: Nathan Wyburn)

He said: “I saw a lot of friends sharing it over Instagram. I am gay myself, and a member of the community, so having witnessed and experienced homophobia in my lifetime as well, growing up in south Wales, it was quite tough.

“I went through a lot of bullying and things. It just really resonated with me, and to see, from what I could see, was such a happy, outgoing, young boy, go through that, it was just absolutely heartbreaking.

“So the image, to me, as soon as I saw that selfie that he put online, to me, I just knew I needed to do something with it.”

Nathan, who painted the piece using his fists, set about crafting the piece of art. He hung the paper up on his wall, dipped his knuckles into paint, and three hours later the portrait was complete.

Speaking of his process, he told the ECHO : “When I use unconventional materials or create in unconventional ways, I try to link the way I do it to the subject matter. So when I thought about this portrait for Josh, I just knew I had to do it with my fists.”

Nathan got emotional as he watched the video of himself painting.

He added: “When I was physically punching, I was almost putting myself in the position of the abuser. It was really physical.

“My hands were hurting. I felt, like, a little bit of maybe what he was feeling. And it just felt like I was part of it. It was definitely one of the most powerful pieces I think I’ve done.”

The Morgan Arcade, where Nathan has an exhibit until August 1, allowed him to hang the portrait in their front window, opposite Mary’s, a gay cabaret bar on St Mary’s Street, Cardiff.

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He said: “The response has just been phenomenal. People raising awareness of it, people who haven’t come across this post that follow me and my following.

“It’s just about spreading awareness that this is still happening, and during Pride month as well. I’ve recently seen that [Drag Race UK star] Divina de Campo’s mural [in Manchester] was being targeted and destroyed as well.

“It’s just another attack on the community during this month. I mean, to me, Pride is every day, it’s not just the month obviously. But it’s quite shocking that this is going on.”

Josh Ormrod, the first year Liverpool Hope University student from Derbyshire who is featured in the painting, approves of the art.

He told the ECHO : “It’s absolutely mental to me that, not only did a successful artist want to use my pictures for a piece of his art, but also for that work to then be displayed in a busy city as an act of solidarity and defiance.

“Nathan is a kind and talented person, and I can’t express my gratitude enough to him for helping to raise awareness about the attacks the LGBT+ community has been facing.”

Liverpool Echo – Liverpool News