A colourful community mural painted by local artists, on a side wall of a Co-op food store in the north of Cambridge, has recently been completed and is now being enjoyed by the public.
The design was put together by three local artists – Samirah Khan, Sa’adiah Khan and Dan Biggs – as part of a project initiated by Chesterton Community Association, and grant funded by Cambridge City Council.
The artists conducted a series of workshops with local residents, Brown’s Field Youth and Community Centre and Eddie’s – a local charity for people with learning disabilities – to inform the theme of the design.
“I was first approached by an active community member, Shahida Rahman, about brightening up the grey wall along Green End Road a couple of years ago,” lead artist Sa’adiah Khan said. “As a local and professional artist who has worked on numerous personal commissions and community art projects, it was important to me to have funding and a tight team to carry out high quality work that would last, and really represent our area with its great variety of people.”
The painting of the brightly coloured mural, which features the words ‘Kindness is Always in Season’, took place across two weeks and prompted a very positive response from the local community.
“The response from the passers-by while working was overwhelming – incredibly positive and supportive,” Sa’adiah explained. “Many have said they’d love to see us do more and even suggested places they’d like to see brightened up with art!
“Working with Dan Biggs and my twin sister Samirah has also been great with new challenges. As we all bring different strengths to the project, it’s really balanced out well.”
Samirah was delighted to be involved in the project, also acknowledging the positive response to the mural. “This is my first big art project in a while as I’ve had my hands full with becoming a mum. I have wanted to get back into doing my own art work, including art for/with the community, so this has been a great opportunity for me.
“The response has been amazing and I’d love to do more projects like this one. I hope this work will be enjoyed by many, for many years.”
Dan felt “very privileged” to work alongside the twin sisters, particularly highlighting the significance of being able to display his talents to the public. “As a working artist, I feel it’s incredibly important for the public to see what I do and have the chance to connect with me,” he said.
Dan was also keen to recognise the local response. “The Chesterton community greeted us with open arms and have been wonderful in their support, generosity and kindness,” he said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities this project has given me, my fellow artists and the local community.”
The council supported the project through a grant award, funded by S106 public art contributions. Chesterton Community Association made an application to the council’s grant scheme for the project in 2015. Michael Bond, Treasurer of Chesterton Community Association, said: “Chesterton Community Association (CCA) has been happy to help make this project happen. As treasurer it fell to me to make the grant bid and to support the team of artists to deliver the mural.
“I had the pleasure of taking part in a workshop at Brown’s Field Youth and Community Centre when ideas were being worked up with strong input from local residents of all ages.
“To see it finally take shape, and to hear of the public interest in it brightened up a very damp day. We are pleased that the council were willing to support this locally-inspired project and look forward to passers-by enjoying the result for a long time to come.”
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