Aerosol artist Jody Thomas finished his portrait of the 16-year-old schoolgirl from Sweden on the side of the 15-meter-high Tobacco Factory building in his home city of Bristol, southwest England, on Wednesday.
“She’s very much in the limelight, very current, very contemporary and she’s obviously clearly leading a very, very important issue which affects all of us on the planet,” Thomas told HuffPost.
“She has a very fearless style, tells it exactly how it is and lets everyone have it with both barrels,” added Thomas, who attended the city’s famed Barton Hill Aerosol Art Project at the same time as Banksy in the 1980s.
The mural forms part of the Upfest Summer Editions, which is taking place across Bristol until October. The full Upfest, Europe’s largest live street art festival, usually takes place in the Bedminster and Southville neighborhoods during the final weekend of July each year but is on a break for 2019.
Thomas worked for more than two weeks on his latest piece.
“Around 70% of the wall was painted with water-based paint with an electric spray gun powered by the Tobacco Factories solar cells,” he wrote on Instagram. “I used a minimum of conventional spray paint - around 25 full cans I’ve counted as this was a big consideration given the theme of the wall.”
Only one person who approached him didn’t know who he was depicting.
“They thought it was Bjork,” Thomas told HuffPost, in reference to the Icelandic singer-songwriter famed for her 1995 version of “It’s Oh So Quiet.”
Steve Hayles, the founder of Upfest, hoped Thomas’ mural would “help to create more conversations on the issue of climate change and its effect on our community.”
“We hope that his work will resonate with the people who come to see it and inspire some to learn more about the issue,” he added.
Thunberg has garnered global attention in recent months for her #FridaysForFuture movement, which asks students to walk out of school on Fridays to raise awareness about the climate crisis.
She told European politicians in April that she wanted them “to panic” about global warming. “I want you to act as if the house was on fire,” she said, later explaining how “when your house is on fire and you want to keep your house from burning to the ground, then that does require some level of panic.”
Thunberg’s rise to fame has coincided with growing awareness, and increasing concern, about the environment.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) signature policy proposal, the Green New Deal, wants to make the U.S. carbon-neutral by 2030.
Earlier this month, the United Nations released a report that predicts up to 1 million species of plants and animals are at risk of imminent permanent loss because of human activity.
And the Extinction Rebellion movement held a series of climate change protests across London and the world in April.
Thomas’ mural of Thunberg replaces one of “The Simpsons” character Lisa Simpson that Manchester female duo Nomad Clan (aka street artists Cbloxx and AYLO) painted at Upfest in 2018 to mark the 100-year anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the United Kingdom.
Thomas in 2017 performed a live street art reveal of HuffPost’s new logo to more than 200,000 people on Facebook.
This article has been updated with details of the paints used for the mural.