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Renowned street artist Shepard Fairey commissioned for north London mural

Work by artist who rose to prominence with Obama 'Hope' poster is located on wall of Turnpike Lane shop

The natural territory of the street artist Shepard Fairey would seem to be as all-American as it gets. Emerging from the country's skateboarding scene he achieved global prominence with his much copied, much parodied Hope poster displaying a stylised Barack Obama in shades of blue and red.

He spent much of Friday assembling his latest street mural in a seemingly less likely locale – a suburban street in Turnpike Lane, one of north London's more economically mixed neighbourhoods.

Hoisted aloft by a rented cherry picker, the 42-year-old artist used stencils and paint to create Envision, an image of a giant, stylised eyeball design, set in the frame of a disused Victorian placard site on the wall of a local shop.

The unlikely public commission, carried out with any charge by the artist, was the almost accidental result of a wider community regeneration programme carried out by the local council, Haringey, and the green travel charity Sustrans.

In getting together to decide options for more pedestrian-friendly street layouts, locals pondered what to do with the crumbling and slightly tatty shop wall, and decided the existing frame left by the long-disappeared Victorian placard would be best filled by a mural.

James Straffon, a local who helped organise the project, went to a London art gallery specialising in graffiti artists to seek help.

He said: "The woman from the gallery asked: 'Ideally, who would you like?' I said: 'I know it would never happen, but Shepard Fairy.' She said: 'Shall I get in touch with him, then?' I stuck my neck out and said yes and sent them a diagram with the sizes, thinking nothing would happen. Literally a week later they said, he's interested and he's coming over."

Straffon says he remains unsure why such a celebrated artist would be interested in a relatively out-of-the-way location. He said: "I think what sold it was that it's an old Victorian billboard. I think they like the fact it's the old London thing."

Before Fairey arrived, Straffon and some neighbours spent a day preparing the wall, painting it in a specified shade of red for a background to the stencilled design.

The US artist and his team spent several hours in decidedly mixed weather putting the design in place. Straffon said: "He's come from west coast America to dreary, sodden London. He must be thinking: 'Great, I've got to do this.' It's quite windy, too."

Another oddity is that this is Turnpike Lane's second work by a globally-known street artist in a matter of months. Last month, a mural believed to be by Banksy, a rough UK equivalent to Fairey, appeared on the wall of the area's local Poundland shop, showing a child sweatshop worker sewing jubilee bunting. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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