Wednesday, December 21, 2016

News: Street art helps transform empty precinct

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As the Council continues talks to acquire Riverside Precinct in Rotherham town centre, the Gallery Town project has stepped in to add vibrancy to the run-down area.

Gallery Town is an open air gallery developed through a partnership between public and private sectors. It aims to attract more people into the town centre by displaying 100 pieces of art on the sides of buildings in 60 different locations around the town. It also aims to promote visual arts that enhance the town centre's cultural offerings, benefitting the local economy.

The project decided to help improve the area and delivered a project called Re-energising People through Regenerating Places which was funded by the Big Lottery Fund and supported by Rotherham Council.

The authority is in negotiations to buy the Forge Island site which is currently home to an empty supermarket and a car park following the relocation of Tesco across town in 2014. It wants to add the freeholds of the Riverside Precinct, and potentially the former Magistrate's Court building, to provide added value for developers interested in getting involved in proposals for a cinema and leisure hub.

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For Riverside Precinct, the project worked with dementia patients through workshops at RDaSH NHS Foundation Trust and asked participants to speak about their memories of Rotherham and key landmarks in the area. Participants worked with artists to create and influence artworks that reflected Rotherham town centre with the professional street artists then created heritage inspired artworks along with their own abstract and specialist designs.

The artists who worked on the project were led by a collective called Smashproof and comprised of South Yorkshire based street artists coLor, Marcus Method, Mr. Kisk, Trick 09 and Mila K. The heritage inspired artworks include the Chapel on the Bridge, a Cannon and the HMS Victory, Rotherham Minster, a Screw Tap and Fire Hydrant and Salmon as seen in the River Don.

Ged Jenkins Omar, project manager at Gallery Town, said: "Gallery Town are really pleased to have been able to deliver this project with some very talented South Yorkshire street artists. Working with dementia patients to explore local landmarks and their memories of Rotherham and then interpreting these into artworks was challenging but exciting. We think the precinct now looks a lot more vibrant and interesting and hope everyone visiting the town centre enjoys seeing them to."

Gallery Town website

Images: Richard Sayles


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