Street artist created mural for 'the love of Dot Cotton and June Brown'

Gnasher painting Dot Cotton's mural

MurWalls street artist Gnasher began painting Dot Cotton's mural in Moray Way, Rise Park at 8am on April 6. - Credit: MurWalls/Gnasher

The artists behind a Romford mural of EastEnders character Dot Cotton have said they did it for the love of the character and actress. 

On the morning of April 6, MurWalls street artist Dave Nash, who is known as Gnasher, set up his equipment on Moray Way in Rise Park to paint a tribute to June Brown.  

June, who played the much-loved Dot Cotton in the BBC soap for more than 30 years, sadly passed away at her home on April 3 aged 95.  

Dot Cotton marking

By 10am Gnasher had started to mark out his drawing. - Credit: MurWalls/Gnasher

Having taken on the role in 1985, June was one of the longest-serving characters and in 2005 she won best actress at the Inside Soap Awards and the lifetime achievement award at the British Soap Awards. 

Chief executive and founder of MurWalls, Marc Silver, said the mural has received “amazing feedback”.  

He said MurWalls - which was set up in November 2019 to work collaboratively with a host of artists - has wanted to paint Dot Cotton since October after it was suggested by an artist.  

But after getting in touch with the BBC and EastEnders, it was contacted by Hertfordshire County Council to do some artwork in an underpass outside Elstree Studios, where EastEnders is filmed.  

Marc said: “We ended up doing a whole row of different EastEnders characters - we did the Albert Square sign and a huge picture of the Queen Victoria pub sign as well.   

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“In terms of the characters, EastEnders chose them and Dot was one of them, but because there were so many of them, they weren’t huge.”  

Painting of Dot Cotton

Work in progress: Gnasher worked hard to make the mural as lifelike as possible. - Credit: MurWalls/Gnasher

Marc invited June to come and see the work, but said she was “too unwell” and instead “kindly sent her signature on a bit of acetate in the post” so the team could trace it.  

When MurWalls' artists heard of the sad news, they immediately pondered what they could do.  

“Gnasher called me to say he had a clear diary on Wednesday (April 6) which is quite rare for us these days to have any spare time.   

“He said how nice will it be to finally get this mural done.  

“We had six hours to find a wall and I wanted it to be in east London. I knew someone who had office space in Romford, so I called them up and they were over the moon and said 'yes',” said Marc.  

Gnasher adding finishing touches to street art

Street artist Gnasher adding the final details to the mural of June Brown who played Dot Cotton in EastEnders. - Credit: MurWalls/Gnasher

After researching the area, Marc said they were told that Dot’s onscreen husband, Jim Branning (John Bardon), lived a couple of roads away. 

He said: “We just thought it was amazing. Later in the day, John’s wife Enda turned up after she saw the mural on social media.  

“She came down with her son and she thought it was a beautiful tribute, and she shared that June was her best friend and had been so good to her husband and was always there supporting them.” 

Nabil Elouahabi, who played Tariq Laroussi in EastEnders, also came down to see the mural and Marc said he too “told more amazing stories about June”.  

Marc said: “It was a really nice day, we did it for the love of Dot Cotton the character, but of course, at the same time, for June Brown who played the character, and now we feel like we know her even better from all these amazing people.”  

Gnasher, Marc and Nabil from Eastenders

From left to right: Gnasher, Marc Silver and Nabil Elouahabi who played Tariq Laroussi in EastEnders. - Credit: MurWalls/Gnasher

Gnasher started the mural at 8am by painting the wall white. Then he marked out the outline at 10am and by 4pm, it had been completed, in time for BBC news coverage.  

Marc added: “We’re delighted, we always say we could do things better and I know Gnasher wasn’t particularly happy with the brick surface because it was grained, so it was more challenging and if the bricks were flatter, he could’ve done a lot more detail on it.   

“But to be fair, that’s our artistic nature where we try to always better ourselves. 

“Standing back and looking at it, I'm really happy with the way it has come out.”  

Dot Cotton Mural

Met Police officers made time to visit the mural which has received "amazing feedback". - Credit: MurWalls/Gnasher