Brightening the community

Image credit: Brett Lockwood

Dr Heather Knight, lecturer on the BA (Hons) Education degree, is one of several different artists brightening the community as part of the government’s Safer Streets Programme. Cliik, a North Stonehouse community business, received funding from ‘Stronger North Stonehouse’ for local artists to paint 30 green cable boxes and a range of large murals in North Stonehouse. The utility boxes, which are usually green and covered in graffiti tags, are transforming into stunning works of art to brighten the local community. Heather’s box, situated on the corner of Wyndham Square, features a beautiful vase of flowers.

Heather painting her cable box. Image courtesy of Brett Lockwood.

Heather painting her cable box. Image courtesy of Brett Lockwood.

Heather explains “I am a big believer that art can bring people together and transform communities. Whilst painting the boxes, many artists received thanks and positive feedback from residents who said they find the painted boxes to be uplifting and brighten up the neighbourhood. I find painting to be therapeutic, so being able to create art for the community has been rewarding. The community connection side of the project is a delight! It is bringing artists and residents together as people stop to enjoy the art works and chat with artists and one another at the boxes and murals. Photos of the art work have been shared across several social media platforms, igniting conversations and inspiring others to get involved in creative projects, such as the Plymouth Artists Together outdoor art gallery project.”

“As an artist and educator, it has been wonderful to meet local residents, community organisers and network with other artists, including sharing art tips with one another and passing on information to residents about other local community initiatives. After a year in lockdown, it feels especially important to have moments to connect (socially distanced) with local people and to be part of a project that brightens the neighbourhood with art.”

Third year BA (Hons) Education student Amandine joined Heather to complete another beautiful painting, featuring cats, mice and a plant on a box on Wolsdon Street. Amandine shared, “Art has this amazing ability to connect people and experiences. Seeing people of the community watch while we painted and chat about the power of art has been absolutely wonderful! It was an honour to be involved in a project that can unite people in art and creativity.”

The local organisers are aiming to create a community art trail with an illustrated map which will encompass the boxes, new large murals, and pre-existing artwork in the community. The art trail will bring more people to the area, creating interest and enjoyment in an economically disadvantaged area.

Researchers at the Plymouth Institute of Education are interested in supporting all different kinds of learning in formal and informal contexts. As well as promoting art, this fun and informal activity is a great opportunity to develop mental health and wellbeing, increase self-confidence and pursue different interests. The art trail is a fantastic opportunity for families and friends to explore their local area, taking notice of some inspirational artwork by community members.

<p>Heather's painted box</p>
<p>Heather and Amandine Education research</p>
<p>Amandine's painted box.</p>