Southampton gets a colourful revamp as part of city’s reopening

Community artists will be invited to help complete a unique piece of public space artwork designed to welcome people back to Southampton as the long Covid-19 lockdown eases.

GO! Southampton has been painting the town – literally – to create the colourful framework for an imaginative, interactive piece of art in the pedestrianised area of Bedford Place and Carlton Place. The project, which has been funded by GO! Southampton, working in partnership with Southampton City Council and Solent Showcase Gallery, will ensure that as shoppers and al-fresco diners return to the city next week they will discover a re-invigorated area alive with colour created by local artists and designers.

The interactive grid at Carlton Place is already striking but has been designed to encourage community groups, schools and businesses to become involved in creating their own additions to the project.

With the help of Studio B.A.D who commissioned local Architect Amanda Moore to create the concept, we arranged for local artist Slam Daniels to implement the vibrant design into the area. As well as the road mural, planters have been painted and branded with the new Bedford Place logo designed by another local artist, Nathan Evans.

This road painting represents another stage in the activation/animation of the Bedford Place road closure pilot scheme, introduced last year by Southampton City Council with support from the BID. The pilot scheme is part of GO! Southampton’s #SouthamptonInsideOut initiative which aims to create space in the city centre for additional dining as well as offering support to hospitality businesses with measures such as licence applications.

GO! Southampton – the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) – has also revealed plans to introduce a picnic/dining area in the city’s iconic Guildhall Square as early as next month (restrictions allowing), also as part of #SouthamptonInsideOut

Amanda Moore, architect and designer of the road mural said: “The aim of the road mural is to help make Carlton Place feel more playful and interactive for pedestrian users.

“The gridded pattern plays on the social distancing markings we have become used to seeing over the last year and also references traditional vehicular road marking patterns.

“The grid is only partly infilled to allow a follow-on programme of contributors, including artists and local school groups, to become involved in designing further temporary infills. In this way, it is envisaged that the work will be constantly evolving and maintaining interest.”

Concrete bollards in Bedford Place had already been painted by local artists, adding to other public art projects in the city centre the BID have been involved with, such as the BENCH project, and Kev Munday’s wall mural in the Westquay shopping centre.

Giles Semper, Executive Director at GO! Southampton said: “We continue to work closely with local traders and partners to revitalise the city centre ahead of lockdown restrictions lifting. We want to make visitors feel safe, while also encouraging them to spend time in the city shopping and dining out. We are now looking at the Guildhall Square area and the possibility of turning it into a temporary picnic or dining area from May onwards.”

John Cooney, Owner of The Cricketers Arms on Carlton Place said:

“On behalf of many of the business owners in Carlton Place, I would like to express our thanks for the initiative and guts to pilot the pedestrianisation, and now to continue it. We saw many benefits including a safer environment for pedestrians in general and a small contribution to a healthier world. Plus, those in the hospitality sector have had more space to spread out in order to meet COVID guidelines and to be more comfortable. Most cosmopolitan great cities offer ‘al fresco’ dining and it’s fantastic that we can also offer this opportunity in Southampton. We now look forward with great excitement to welcoming customers old and new to our invigorated and energised surroundings.”

John Cooney (left) of The Cricketers on Carlton Place with his staff team.