• 2021.03.17
  • A stepping stone. Art to smile about.
In the last year, governmental institutions and museums here in the United Kingdom (but all over the world, of course) have produced a large number of virtual materials through social networks and websites, some truly interesting ones.
It has been possible to remotely explore museums and virtual exhibits other than browsing videos, interviews, live shows, lectures, archive documents, online collections, insights and more.
More than speaking of art at the time of a pandemic, we should in fact talk about art at the time of social media because it is through social media and the Internet that everything can so “magically” enter our homes and the boundaries between reality and fantasy become non-existent.
Many artists have also started having their own Instagram page posting their works of art online making them available to everyone to see.
Some artists here in the UK have started to sell their art online using Instagram as a sort of online art gallery in a desperate attempt not to go bankruptcy because not all artists are famous and rich as one may think.
There are so many local artists who are struggling and who are trying to find ways to keep their art ‘alive.’

But art is not only producing to sell and here in London, starting I believe from my neighbourhood, a new and creative idea has recently caught on: painting on stones and placing these stones around the neighbourhoods for others to take them or to reposition them in other parts of the neighbourhood or the city.
The initiative, already widespread in Italy and the United States, also arrived to the United Kingdom and it is called “A stone for a smile” because the purpose of the initiative is to bring a smile to the face of those who find them.
Bringing a smile in these ‘dark times’ is a true art form!
Art is exactly this: it moves people, it makes them think and enjoy life and it makes everything more colourful and better for everyone around you.
The artist or artists who first started the initiative here have remained unknown and each one has her own style of painting on stones.
Even my girlfriend started enjoying this passion for stone painting and she joined this initiative which also has a social media online page.
Her passion for stone painting was born a long time ago when she was little and collecting stones and wood to create drawings by the sea.
She mainly draws funny characters or fruits but out there, there are stones with simple landscapes, trees, flowers, animals, hearts and some portraying families or abstract subjects. Some people also draw stones with meaningful phrases and mottos too.
It seems to have turned into another communal way for meeting and exchanging a smile, beyond the mask and without fear of contagion. It doesn't cost much, nor does it require special talents, but it reveals some effort to do something for others.
There are some stones around also coloured by children, others still look like real works of art.
They can be found in front of a door, behind a statue, in the park or on a bench.
Those who leave them want them to represent a message of joy for anyone lucky enough to find them.
There are very few rules: avoiding any sad thoughts that crowd the mind in this period and to participate you only need a stone you can get from a home improvement shop, a brush, acrylic colours, a finishing varnish and some imagination.

Two stones for two smiles painted by my girlfriend


  • GianFranco Belloli
  • Jobblogger/musician

I moved to London over 2 years ago but only last year I started writing for a local newsletter for Expats in London telling about my experience in this big city and giving advice to newcomers. London is a very dynamic city and has a lot for everyone but it’s important to have a local point of view to navigate it without getting lost. Let me be your guide to hidden London!

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