Now the street art scene hits the TV screen

Getting ahead: Sarah Yates and one of her wall creations
Getting ahead: Sarah Yates and one of her wall creations
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FOR Sarah Yates, it started out as a semi-legal hobby but back then she had bigger things to worry about than getting caught.

Aged just 18 she had been diagnosed with leukaemia, and, after eight months of gruelling hospital treatment, had taken up street art as a way of getting out of the house and clearing her mind.

Today that hobby is her profession and this summer her work is set to make the 25-year-old a TV star.

For this week she will be guiding Channel 4 cameras around Sheffield as part of a season of programmes highlighting British subcultures.

“I think street art deserves more attention and programmes like this help,” says Sarah, who lives in Penistone and works under the business name Fauna Graphic. “And obviously I’m always looking to get my work seen by people.”

There is no doubt she has come a long way since her first tentative steps in her home town of Todmorden.

She has always loved art but it was only after those eight months in Manchester’s Christie cancer hospital she took to graffiti.

“I’d spent so much of that time working on canvas I was sort of looking for a new challenge so when a friend suggested street art, I thought ‘Why not?’” she says today, showing off her work on a car park wall in Milton Street.

“It wasn’t always totally legal but I was young and it seemed the least of my worries.

“It’s different now I’m a professional.

“I was never totally happy working in the shadows but it definitely helped me get through the illness because it let me be creative.

“I was insecure after I left hospital and finding something I was good at meant a lot.”

It was while practising she met her long term boyfriend and she moved to Penistone in 2006.

Since then Sarah, who has been in remission five years and has since earned a first class degree in Graphic Design, has travelled the world producing murals, and next month she will create a huge wildlife display in The Moor surrounding the new market’s construction site.

But, before that, there’s this TV show.

She will show off art in the city centre and Parson Cross while offering on screen analysis.

It will broadcast as Street Summer in August.

“I’m nervous – it’s not every day you do TV but it’s great for the scene and Sheffield,” she says. “It’s exciting.”