Buildings in Thornton Heath are to be given a splash of colour when they are decorated with murals and public artwork celebrating the local area, over the coming months.
As part of the council’s £2.7m investment in the area, four artists with strong local connections were appointed following a competitive process, to create designs for four exterior walls of buildings along the high street.
The artworks form part of wider improvements in the area, which will see 30 existing shop become more uniform and historic architectural features being repaired and reinterpreted in patterns used at the front of shops. The work also includes the removal of oversized light boxes and signs, the simplification of window advertisements and painting of upper stories of the buildings.
The artists held several workshops with local residents so the murals could be driven by the wishes of people living and working in the area, and used these discussions to influence their final designs.
Artist Ben Connor was keen to work with young people and his mural celebrates the unity and pride associated with the CR7 postcode. His piece intends to welcome people to Thornton Heath and features quotes local people of all ages said to him during the project workshops.
Illustrator Philip Dennis was inspired by patterns created at his workshop, during which the group walked Thornton Heath with pencils and notepads looking closely at its buildings, collecting shapes and patterns that interested them. These were then used to make colourful collages, which Philip translated into his design and highlights various landmarks and points of interest around Thornton Heath.
Print-maker Mat Pringle’s piece is based on Thornton Heath’s best nature spots. During his workshop people shared knowledge of local plants and animals, such as the albino squirrels in Grangewood Park. Participants then made their own linocut print, some of which Mat used to inspire his artwork.
Snapshot Collective, a group of local photographers, is responsible for the final design. The proposed “This is Thornton Heath Project” hopes to present a snapshot of as many people’s contributions as possible. The team held a poetry workshop and produced texts in response to the photos.
The final design which is in planning, will be made up of dozens of photos taken by local people which represented and celebrated Thornton Heath. The individual photographs and lines of poetry will be used like mosaic tiles, to create a giant graphic signposting the presence of the area’s Ghanapathy Temple.
Councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, said: “The artwork reflects the colourful and diverse nature of the high street’s offerings which local people expressed much pride about. Croydon’s regeneration is about the whole borough and it’s fantastic to see improvements being made that will bring huge benefits to both residents and businesses in Thornton Heath.”
Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for economy and jobs, added: “The enhancements to the shop fronts and building facades will improve the look and feel of High Street, which in turn will attract more people to the local shops and continue to boost growth in the area.”