WORK is due to start this week on the first of a series of murals commissioned by the council on Thornton Heath High Street to celebrate the diversity of the area.
The first design by Mat Pringle, which will feature on the flank wall of Fast Eddys cafe next to the post office, promotes the hidden nature and green space in Thornton Heath.
The artworks are part of the £2.7 million regeneration scheme and include improvements to 30 existing shop frontages and buildings above – with historic architectural features being repaired and reinterpreted in patterns.
The colourful designs have been enthusiastically received so much so that businesses not within the scheme have contacted the council to ask if they can pay to be included.
Alison Butler, the council’s cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, and a Bensham Manor councillor, said: “The artwork reflects the colourful and diverse nature of the High Street’s offerings which local people expressed much pride about.”
Palace fan Mat, a print-maker illustrator, who teaches Illustration and Printmaking at BRIT Kid has has lived in and around Thornton Heath all of his life.
His idea was to create an artwork on the theme of the nature of Thornton Heath, more specifically the flora and fauna of Thornton Heath.
His artwork comprises of oversized circular cutout panels printed with illustrations onto an abstracted map of the area.
Now Mat (pictured left), who has worked with the local community, was inspired by comments from the 2015 workshops about how – in contrast to what you might think from a walk down the High Street – there is so much hidden nature and green space in Thornton Heath. People wanted to see more of this in the town centre.
• He held a workshop at which people shared knowledge of local plants and animals, such as the white squirrels who lived in Grangewood Park, or the Jerusalem artichokes that are grown at Thornton Heath Rec.
• Participants then made their own linocut print. Mat used some of these to inspire his artwork, such as the image of the pigeon.
• Mat was careful, when developing the character of his piece, in response to community concerns, not to make the artwork look like graffiti. His piece is designed to evoke a more ‘traditional’ illustration.
He said: “The community desire to see more and to celebrate nature in the area is the central theme of my mural.”
Adding: “I work in traditional dipping pen and ink before developing into larger screen prints.”
He grasped the opportunity to be able to offer something back to the community in a creative capacity, taking some of the stories and history of the Thornton Heath community and turn them into large scale inspirational illustrations.
A total of five artists have now been appointed by the council. They include artist Ben Connor, illustrator Philip Dennis and the Snapshot Collective. More recently a new flank wall became available and after asking artists to submit works international artist Barefaced who is originally or Thornton Heath was selected.
For more information about Mat visit his web site: www.matpringle.co.uk