Three new subway murals are set to be unveiled at the City Forest Garden, home of Chester SuperTrees, beneath the Hoole Way roundabout by Mecca bingo. . Each of the three subways leading to Chester’s eco-extravagant secret garden have previously been severely neglected and had an uninviting grim image.
The unveiling of the three murals will take place on Saturday 2 April from 10am-12 pm at the City Forest Garden . There will be cakes for sale, spring bulbs to plant, weeding to be done and an opportunity to meet and greet the artists themselves.
The three murals have been made possible thanks to funding from the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire and the Safer Streets project and delivered by the team at Forest City Projects CIC in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council.
John Dwyer, Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “The importance of having that feeling of safety when you’re on the street cannot be understated and sometimes even the simplest of measures can help to improve it.
“The artwork that has been installed will make Chester feel safer for residents and even more welcoming for visitors. I’m really pleased that the Safer Streets funding we secured has led to these improvements and I want to make sure we build on this great work.”
Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “We welcome initiatives that improve safety and make people feel more secure, as well as improving the look and feel of an area, making them more welcoming and safe for residents and visitors to the City. This project will greatly improve the subways and I would like to thank those involved for playing their part in helping to deliver it.”
The installation of the murals is the latest project to commence at the site and has been a collaborative effort between Forest City Projects CIC, the Council and artists Wendy Connelly, Russell Kirk, and David ‘Doodleplanet’ Setter.
Sam Ryley, Director at Forest City Projects CIC and project manager of the subway mural project, said: “The whole concept is about raising awareness to the current climate and ecological emergency that we are facing. The murals artistically capture both the negative impact humans have had, and the beautiful aspects of earth, water, and air that we need to nurture. This is showcased through each of the subways having a different themed mural – earth, water, and air, each by a different artist.
The community also helped design the murals. Sam Ryley said: “We did a lot of community consultations where the artists met different groups of the community for feedback, which was really important to ensure the artwork would be well received.
“Workshops were run with local schools. We invited residents to the City Forest Garden to discuss the initial designs, and we also ran sessions at Storyhouse and St Werburgh Parish Centre where the public were invited to draw and interact with the artists’ concepts.”
At the site of the murals, art student Chelsea Jones describes them as: “really attention grabbing, the colours sort of draw you in because it’s not something you would expect to see down here and then you start thinking about the meaning behind it all.”
Due to the physical state of the neglected walls, the project also required a lot of pre-production to ensure a quality and enduring finish was achieved.
Sam Ryley said: “It’s been a long process; we were unable to achieve an acceptable quality of wall surface for the artists to paint directly onto the walls, so it was decided to print the artwork directly onto aluminium panels that are mounted to the wall. The aluminium is an infinitely recyclable raw material, and we have achieved a quality representation of the artwork that is resistant to defacing and will last for many years.”
This approach to mounting the murals calls back to the meaning behind the project itself. The Chester SuperTrees project is one that aims to bring back biodiversity and climate consciousness in reconnecting people with nature, while helping the community do their part and act against climate change in new and exciting ways.
If you would like to volunteer or help the Forest City Projects Team, you can contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For updates and upcoming events, follow Chester SuperTrees on Facebook at www.facebook.com/chestersupertrees and Twitter @ChesterSTrees.
Launch event: Saturday 2 April from 10am-12 pm
The Chester SuperTrees project began in 2018 when the founder of community group ForEST (for eco super trees), Steve Hughes began raising money for the revitalisation of the previously termed “sunken garden” at Hoole Way roundabout by running seven marathons in seven days across seven different countries. Since then, the ForEST group became Forest City Projects CIC and have worked with funding partners and contractors to achieve the vision of a city centre biodiverse hotspot for nature and people to enjoy. This has been through landscaping the area by lowering previously vision obstructing walls and introducing specific insect-attracting species of plants into the flower beds, but most notably, they have installed three 7.5-meter high ‘SuperTrees’, intertwined with climbing plants, inspired by the vertical gardens of Singapore. These are a symbol for environmentalism to encourage people to talk about, learn about, and act for nature.