Simon Ormerod was caught red-handed with spray cans outside a Whanganui pre-school centre on Thursday.

He was not there to de-face the place however - he was completing a mural on the fence of the YWCA Early Years Learning Centre in London St.

Mr Ormerod, who works under the name Cracked Ink, was commissioned to paint the mural to brighten up the fence and lift the centre's profile.

"This local art is the perfect way for us illustrate our links with the Whanganui community," said centre manager Megan Wallace.

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"It is contemporary, fun and interesting - which is in line with what our children experience every day they are with us."

Mrs Wallace said the artist had received numerous compliments from passersby and lots of friendly toots from motorists.

Mr Ormerod has completed a number of murals around Whanganui and some are at schools although this was his first work for an early childhood centre.

Murals in public places have been known to deter graffiti vandalism and the artist said it seems to be true because none of his earlier works have been tagged.

The Early Learning Centre is a new initiative for the YMCA and Mrs Wallace said the team have worked hard over the past 12 months to establish their presence in the local community.