A team of artists has been chosen to transform four of Plymouth’s busiest subways with artworks that reflect the city’s “humour, positivity and colour”.
Plymouth Culture has worked with Plymouth City Council and Plymouth City Centre Company to commission the project, which will bring new life to the North Cross roundabout subways.
Plymouth artists Sue Lewry and Eleanor Tomas have been selected for the project to reimagine the set of subways following a competitive process.
Work on the first subway has already started and will include abstract images of the sea and moors, together with messages that show off Plymouth’s identity.
One wall pointing towards the sea will be emblazoned with the words “Lookin’ Swell” and one heading towards Dartmoor will say “Gimme Moor” highlighting two very well known attributes of Plymouth that Plymouthians take pride in.
The underpasses – built as part of the roundabout in the 1970s – are a short walk from the railway station which is currently undergoing a significant regeneration project, and the new artwork will be seen by thousands of visitors and residents.
Sue and Eleanor are responsible for the design concept and artwork of all four subways and are collaborating with experienced street artists Lee Jackson and Roy Christie, who will skillfully translate the designs to painted artworks using hand and spray paint techniques.
Sue and Eleanor said: “We want to create a Plymouth greeting that welcomes people to our flourishing city with humour, colour and positivity.
“Many people arrive via the train station or from outside the centre. We’re aiming to draw attention to Plymouth’s best features, the sea and the moor, and signpost this.
“We hope this creative vision will enhance people’s city experience as they walk through the subways.”
Both Sue and Eleanor have worked on public art projects previously – Sue also runs a popular printmaking studio and Eleanor won the recent Selfie Wall Project with her Made in Plymouth design, which is painted near the Coach Station in the city centre.
Dozens of artists responded to the open call managed by Plymouth Culture. Members of the Public Art Steering Group made the final selection which included representatives from Plymouth City Council, Plymouth City Centre Company, Plymouth Artists Together, Plymouth Design Forum and The Box.
Plymouth Culture CEO Hannah Harris said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the artists that responded to our open call and the efforts of the Public Art Steering Group in helping select Sue and Eleanor.
“We love the positive spirit and humour in Sue and Eleanor’s proposal as well as the pride their work clearly shows for the place they live.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the first reactions from people as they pass through and hope this everyday cultural encounter reminds visitors and residents of what a wonderful place Plymouth is and the people who live here.”
Councillor Mark Lowry, Plymouth City Council’s city centre champion, said: “We are committed to making the city centre brighter and better and murals are a great way to cheer up the walls of subways leading into the centre from the railway station. It’s a great opportunity for Plymouth artists to showcase their talent to an audience of thousands.”
Steve Hughes, chief executive of the Plymouth City Centre Company, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this project which will make a real difference to the look and feel of a major gateway into the city centre.
“It is important for us and our businesses to make the city centre welcoming and vibrant for our businesses, workers, residents and visitors and high quality street art is an important part of that ambition.”
This project is part-funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.