Artists put us in the picture

The street art which has brought a striking new look to St Annes town centre is just the start.

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 11:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:42 pm
The artwork on Back St Annes Road West, St Annes

That’s the pledge from the St Annes Enterprise Partnership (STEP), whose aim over the next 12 months is to see up to 20 similar works on display all over town - providing an extra magnet for visitors as well as a talking point.

It’s a prospect which has been greeted eagerly by St Annes town mayor and Fylde tourism committee chairman Coun Cheryl Little, who feels that such an art trail could provide a key selling point for St Annes as it looks to build on the increasing number of visitors attracted to town by events such as the Kite Festival.

STEP vice-chairman Veli Kirk said: “It looks great, has really got everybody talking and hopefully it is just the start.

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“Over the course of the next year, we hope to see other works like that at key locations all over town, from the seafront to the railway station as well as elsewhere in the shopping area.”

Coun Little said: “I think it’s a great idea and perhaps it can work as a unique selling point for St Annes. The way visitor numbers have increased in recent years has been really encouraging but we are always doing what we can to bring in more and it would be great if this provided an extra attraction.”

STEP are already working on the prospect of a street art festival next year, along the lines of similar events in Blackpool which have attracted visitors galore from Europe and further afield, and STEP chairman Bev Wood said: “Urban art is a great attraction to younger people and is the ideal way to give the necessary impetus to furthering the town art trail idea.

“We are very excited about the prospect of an urban art festival in town next year and we look forward to setting a date for it in due course.”

STEP worked with Blackpool-based Creative Arts and Futures to introduce the town’s first street art to the corner of Back St Annes Road West and Orchard Road.

The 12ft x 12ft image by specialist urban artists Hayley Garner and Joy Gilleard, known together as Nomad Clan, pays homage to the town’s history as well as the children and dogs who revel in its beach and other open spaces.

The Manchester-based duo were commissioned by Blackpool-based Creative Arts and Futures on behalf of STEP to transform the back street in St Annes town centre which has long been touted as ‘art alley’, with various pictures hung on the wall in a bid to promote an art trail.

Nomad Clan, who completed the St Annes work in just a few days, were one of the headline artists, at this year’s Sand Sea and Spray Festival in Blackpool.

That event attracted more than 30 artists, some from as far afield as Cuba, Iceland and Portugal.

Hayley and Joy said: “We had a great time in St Annes - everybody made us so welcome and we look forward to going back and hopefully adding more works.

“We wanted to acknowledge the town’s history as well as recognise the features which continue to make the town so popular, now and in the future.

“The ships shown on the painting symbolise the Mexico disaster from the 1880s, while the little girl is a way of portraying the fact that St Annes is just a great destination for families.

“We came to town with those general ideas in mind for the content but when we arrived and had a look around, we saw so many dogs being walked and were told dog walking regulations locally are a big topic of the moment, so we incorporated a dog into the work.”

Bev added: “This eye-catching work really adds colour and character to this part of town. It looks great and it has been proving a real talking point with shoppers and the many passers-by heading for The Square.

Coun Tony Ford, chairman of the Friends of St Annes Station, said: “I am very pleased that St Annes is being enhanced through street art installations. I look forward to the scheme being extended and hope that our award-winning station will benefit from a creative art installation in the future.”