Welcome to Bilston: How art has brightened up Black Country streets

Art has been brought to the streets of the Black Country as part of a community project led by the University of Wolverhampton's School of Art.

Welcome to Bilston!
Welcome to Bilston!

As part of the project, 10 graduates from the Wolverhampton School of Art were awarded a £1,000 commission each to create artwork about Bilston and to run local workshops in the community.

Four other commissions were granted to local artists and these are now on show for everyone to enjoy.

A street level exhibition of 24 images and one large-scale mural has now been installed on Hall Street and The Orchard.

Some of the artwork in Bilston

During the course of the project, launched in March this year, 11 workshops involved more than 200 people including schools, colleges and the local community.

Gavin Rogers, senior lecturer in fine art at the university who has facilitated the project, said: “The project, which is ongoing, aims to capture, entertain and reimagine past, present and future stories of Bilston.

"We have commissioned local artists and graduates to create artworks about Bilston, its people, places and stories.

“It’s been amazing to see our graduates from a variety of degree courses including visual communications, fine art, photography and humanities as well as some of our university staff, who are Black Country-based artists in their own right, taking part in creating a unique street wall of art which gives us all snapshots of the life and history of the area.

Vik Chandla with his Ow Am Ya artwork

“Bilston is full of creative people and we hope to encourage creativity to flourish in the area.”

The artwork includes the work of Vik Chandla, an aspiring local street artist, which appears along The Orchard in the form of a 20-metre mural which features a symbolic and cultural layering of shapes from the past, present and future, featuring canals, the Staffordshire Knot, metalworks marks, the market and orange chips.

Black Country-based artists include Claire Buckerfield who has created an abstract work which draws attention to a forgotten, unassuming building nearby.

Student Emily Williams next to some of her photographs which feature in the exhibition

Beyond these and continuing along Hall Street, is a showcase of work by local and regional artists who are all graduate-alumni from the University of Wolverhampton.

The Bilston Art Project secured £30,000 funding, part of a £1 million Towns Fund Accelerator Grant obtained by the council's Town Deal Board for improvements to Wolverhampton city centre, Bilston and Wednesfield.

Councillor Stephen Simkins, deputy leader of Wolverhampton Council and cabinet member for city economy, said: “The works being done through the accelerator funding are just the start of positive changes to come for the city centre, Bilston and Wednesfield.

“The area around Hall Street and The Orchard has been given uplift through a project that will enable artists to showcase work, linked to local history, on hoardings that will smarten up the area and support local residents in the growing creative industries sector."

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