Please don’t buy a Sine Missione hoodie…
Dear members — ever found yourself staring at a BT box in Liverpool and wondering why Jimmy Hendrix is staring back? Well, you’ve stumbled upon the work of Liverpool’s Cosmic Scouser-cum-street-artist extraordinaire, Sine Missione. Missione is a missionary of sorts for the cosmic side of life, a believer that “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace” but also a proponent of many, shall we say less agreeable, points of view. We tried to get to terms with what his artwork means to Liverpool, and whether there might be a more dangerous side to his New Age clan.
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By Jack Walton
A place must have its myths. Its shared folklore. Over in Nottingham they’ve got Robin Hood, the Yeoman outlaw whose bow-wielding escapes have entertained everyone from 14th century peasants huddled round a campfire to 21st teenagers inhaling popcorn in a multiplex. In Wales they’ve got the Lady of the Lake, in Scotland the Loch Ness Monster. Up the M62 there’s an apocryphal assailant pushing people into the canal. So they say.
But in Liverpool, we’ve got something far stranger and more twisted, but whose legacy will perhaps outlast all of the above: an electrician called Kevin Hilton.
While the name Kevin Hilton might not be jumping off the page at you, Sine Missione probably will. But for those out of the loop: Sine Missione — a gladiatorial term for “without mercy” — is Hilton’s alias/advertising tool for his t-shirt and hoodie range, and the name that accompanies the ‘artworks’ he stencils across the streets of Liverpool.
Missione is what many describe as a “Cosmic Scouser”. It’s a broad term once used for the conspiratorially-minded but ultimately harmless — drawing from new age wellness to mind-altering experiences via any and every mad theory ever fired off into cyberspace. Some think the mysticism might be acting as a surrogate for religion in a city where faith is so integral to its founding stories but plays an increasingly diminishing role. Others think there’s something in the water.
At this point, you might be asking yourself: why does Sine Missione warrant reporting on? After all, he’s just one person with a middling artistic style. But the deeper you delve with Hilton, the more it becomes clear his artwork is a gateway to far more questionable beliefs, a truth that can sadly be applied to the broader Cosmic Scouser movement. Indeed, the Missione of 2023 exists in the sweet spot between litter-picking and Holocaust denial.
But back to Sine and his artwork. The picture below gives you a good idea of what sort of thing he’s into. You will have seen it around anyway. The vibe? Positive, always. The message? General enough to be ambiguous.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.
Telephone boxes, leccy boxes, assorted nooks and crannies. He’s everywhere. There’s hardly a spot from Festival Gardens to Bramley-Moore Dock from which John Lennon or Macolm X or Confucius don’t peer out, accompanied by a benign peace and love quote and the ubiquitous Sine Missione logo (and often his Instagram handle, for good measure).
Hilton applied for the trademark for the logo in 2011, a long time before any real attention was drawn to his name, but around the same time his first stencil, an image of the Christ the Redeemer statue on Larkhill Lane in Clubmoor, popped up. He appears to have been plastering it all around town ever since. The trademark was renewed in 2020, which — along with his shop in Cavern Walks — puts a slightly more opportunist slant on the peace and love message: Revolution! But at a tidy profit. His business is properly registered, although it’s well overdue filing its accounts according to Companies House.
While Missione’s fame has been on the decline over the past two years, perhaps he’s pushing back. The man behind the art has a new clothing website out — feel free to peruse. In an earlier imagining of this piece I had a plan: I would try on Missione’s new garms down at Cavern Walks. I had visions of myself having epiphanies about life, love, the Establishment, in a distinctly gap-year looking sort of hoodie. Unfortunately, when I got down there, it was deserted. None of Missione’s Che Guevara hoodies were hanging up on their racks, and not wishing to stump up £45 online for the pleasure I was forced to go without.
Sine Missione’s tags might feel like an unattractive but impossible to eradicate part of life — along the lines of the common cold. But it’s worth knowing a little more about the man who put it there. Because this all runs deeper than simply using the public realm as a massive canvas to advertise hoodies.
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