Swindon has long boasted a great tradition in murals, notably in the work of well-regarded local artist Ken White, whose murals of the town’s great and good adorned many a town centre wall in the 1970s and 1980s (before he became Richard Branson’s go-to artist for Virgin record shops, hotels, airport lounges, and famously the Scarlet Lady on the side of Virgin Atlantic aircraft).
Now a new artwork (above) commissioned by Swindon Borough Council has been unveiled to great acclaim in Princes Street, next to the Rendezvous restaurant and just below the Wyvern Theatre.
Created by Peter Cowdy and Caryn Koh from Artsite, the work represents Swindon and its amazing natural spaces from across the town including GWR Park and Queen’s Park located in the town centre. The work even incorporates one of the trees above it, if you stand at the right angle.
This is one of many new murals that have popped up across the town centre in recent weeks that welcome people back to the area after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peter said: “We picked features such as the trees growing above, the grassy bank to the right side and the flowing traffic in front as ways of helping set the mural in place with its surroundings."
“We created a scene showing a character relaxing in what could be one of Swindon’s many beautiful green spaces, flanked by some recognisable Swindon structures and the familiar local site of rolling tree covered horizons."
“We would like to thank all the people who passed by and spoke with us, your positivity and reception to art in public will inspire more."
Other inspiring murals that have cropped up around the town centre feature quotes from Swindon nature writer Richard Jefferies, abundant wildlife, mystery readers in silhouette, a female warrior with babe in arms, a ‘Hope’ message, a map of Swindon populated by famous locals, and deep brown eyes peering through foliage.
Among the artists on display are Van Grey, Martin Travers, Lionel Stanhope and Billy Beaumont, not to forget the last standing townscape view by Ken White at Whale Bridge
Anita Bellinger, inSwindon BID Director, said: “We owe a big thank you to the grassroots charity Artsite, who have now helped not only inSwindon BID but Swindon Borough Council to creatively #GrowSwindon. Beautiful and uplifting pieces of art are springing up all around the town centre, it’s very exciting. Watch this space, there is more to come!”
Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Culture, Heritage and Leisure, said: “I want us to be proud of Swindon, to be more positive and these murals are just the start of making our town centre a place for everyone to visit, whether that’s for shopping, dining or leisure.”