It's been a long time coming, for the last few years I've been trying to get a city-wide, community-consulted, large-scale mural project off the ground where gradually Hull would get coloured in a celebration of creativity and self-expression. Every community would have an opportunity to express itself (whether it had an obvious heritage or not), by joining artists in workshops and identify what they want to share with the world on a wall in their community. The artwork would be designed by artists to ensure their thoughts are perfectly encapsulated but also to a really high artistic standard.
Personally, the project was an opportunity to combine the two strands of my practice - public art creations and highly-engaged community arts - but also combine the challenges within both fields of work.
Community arts work can be critiqued for occasionally compromising the quality of the finished artwork as projects require constant management of the participants' and artist's input. The process and values of participation far outweigh the outcome's look, however, after working as project co-ordinator for Right Up Our Street in Doncaster I believe a great artist can achieve both aims of high engagement and high quality art (which is partly why I have the Studio Capri branch.)
In contrast, in public art the artist takes control. Taking over spaces for yourself and opposing views on the public conflicts with the former community art background, hence why my work often references architectural and decorative history, creating links between the art and sense of existing place. Working on Terrace Enders I saw the potential and impact of when the two forms work together.
Last year Hull City Council and Back To Ours (distant Hull cousin of Right Up Our Street) came on board to make the project reality by funding a Phase 1. With creative support from Spray Creative, we will be trialing the project in one area and documenting the process to find out what works and what doesn't. With this research and development, we will have a tried and tested plan to apply for larger grants with the aim of rolling the project out across the city. Finally, last week, Phase 1 got the green light from local councillors to start in our chosen community. East Hull keep an eye out...
Updated 2020: This project is now complete, you can find out more about The Bilton Grange Mural project here.