Ocean giant moves into city school

A giant mural which aims to provide pupils with a unique insight into the marine environment is capturing imaginations at a Plymouth school.

The central atrium and dining area at Marine Academy Plymouth (MAP) have been transformed thanks to a humpback whale taking up residence on its walls.

Created by designers and graduates of Plymouth University, and installed by city company Eagle Signs, the life-size image measures up to 38ft high and 90ft long, and comes complete with accompanying drawings to demonstrate its scale – including an original Mini and a tall ship.

Meanwhile the story of the whale’s life is told in verse written by Caroline Carver, poet in residence at Plymouth University’s Marine Institute.

Nick Ward, Principal at Marine Academy Plymouth, said:

“This iconic image and the story that goes with it immediately tells anyone learning, teaching or visiting us what this building is about. Designed and made to the highest standard, we believe it can inspire everyone who sees it. Our focus is to help to prepare and develop our pupils’ career opportunities, and this mural is a powerful vision of what they have the potential to achieve with the right attitude and decisions.”

Marine Academy Plymouth is the first establishment of its kind in the UK, and incorporates a nursery, primary school, secondary school and sixth form. 

Plymouth University is the lead sponsor of Marine Academy Plymouth, alongside Cornwall College and Plymouth City Council, and over the past 18 months, students and staff have worked with the school to transform the appearance of its public spaces.

For this project, the overall concept and selection of the design team was undertaken by the University’s Brand and Campus Design Director, Tim Guy, and students from MAP worked on the initial stages of the mural concept with illustrator and Plymouth graduate Ben Wills.

Francis Reis, Head of Marketing Operations at Plymouth University, said:

“This mural is the latest phase of a partnership designed to raise the aspirations of young people across Plymouth and encourage them to think about what they can achieve in the future. It has enabled our BA (Hons) Illustration students and staff in the Document Production Centre to work on a unique collaborative project, and the visual journey we are creating at Marine Academy Plymouth is enabling us to engage with pupils throughout their educational development.”

Eagle Signs has been responsible for all the external signage at Marine Academy Plymouth, as well as much of the internal artwork. Mark Carter, Director of Eagle Signs, added:

“This is the biggest internal sign we as a company have ever produced, and undoubtedly presented us with some unique challenges. It took in the region of 50 hours to print the image, and then a day and a half to install it, but we are very proud of the results and of the impact our ongoing partnership with Marine Academy Plymouth and Plymouth University is having on the school and everyone who comes here.”

BA (Hons) Illustration

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Award-winning, committed tutors – who work at the forefront of illustration and are passionate about image-making – will support you on your journey.

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Photo of Beth Baines, Josh Prior, Rhiannon Izard. working on a multi-media animation project