New bridge art design in Plymouth will leave lasting Mayflower 400 legacy

Apr 19, 2021

Leading members of Plymouth's construction industry have delivered the re-energised ‘Polish Bridge Art’ on Gdynia Way as part of their community engagement efforts towards a lasting legacy for Mayflower 400.

Coordinated by Building Plymouth, The Road to Mayflower volunteering team has aimed to improve the visitor welcome experience from Marsh Mills Roundabout through creating The Mayflower Forest and now, by delivering the striking new art design on the well-known Cattedown Road Bridge along Gdynia Way.

Project lead, Emma Hewitt said: “As a team of volunteers who feel passionate about Plymouth, we wanted to make a difference and recognised that this bridge located on a main gateway into the city could offer a much improved visitor welcome impression.

"We also felt it provides the perfect opportunity to more explicitly promote and celebrate the Twinning relationship between the cities of Plymouth UK and Gdynia in Poland which has existed since September 1976.

"We have enjoyed engaging with the Saturday Polish School and Plymouth Gdynia Twinning Panel to help inform our new bridge art design.

"I must extend huge thanks to construction friends including Stride Treglown, Midas Construction and Jem Scaffolding, who along with support from Mayflower 400, SWH and Plymouth City Council, have enabled us to make this project a reality."

The re-energised 'Polish Bridge Art' on Gdynia Way in Plymouth

Charles Hackett, CEO of Mayflower 400, said: "This is an impressive achievement and we are very grateful to The Road to Mayflower team who have worked hard in their own time to improve the experience for visitors arriving in Plymouth and support the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

"The Road to Mayflower team have engaged with the local Polish community, fundraised, co-ordinated the project, and commissioned a local designer, delivering a legacy project for us to be proud of.

"The refreshed art design speaks so positively to visitors and residents of Britain’s Ocean City, and prominently acknowledges our local Polish community and twinned relationship with the city of Gdynia which is fantastic."

Once The Road to Mayflower team had secured private sector sponsorship from the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, City Centre Company, WBD and Midas Construction, along with Mayflower Sparks Funding successfully applied for through Plymouth's Saturday Polish School, James Edgar Studio, a local design agency, was commissioned to create and install the new art design for the bridge.

James, owner of James Edgar Studio, said: "Our bridge art design has been informed through in-depth research, design thinking, and our insightful field trip to Gdynia enabled us to fully immerse ourselves with the city’s amazing culture.

"We learnt that Gdynians are known as the 'Sledz' (the Herrings) with two Sledz featured on their flag as Herrings spawn in the shallows of the Baltic.

"Gdynia is firmly focused on the future and there is a real sense of positivity and determination so we felt it was important for our design to reflect a similar positive message. 'Make Waves' is positive and bold whilst acknowledging the city’s relationship with the ocean, and strengths and expertise in marine and maritime.

Watch the story of the 'Polish Bridge Art' project, courtesy of Skills Launchpad Plymouth

"In the studio, we decided to embrace the complicated bridge structure and develop a grid to complement the design. A Herringbone pattern was developed in line with Gdynia's graphic aesthetic and architecture.

"The pattern evolves from herringbone into waves which joins both sides. Gdynia's design integrity meant colour and typography were an important consideration.

"A colour palette of deep dark blues of the Baltic and the lighter Atlantic hues were chosen and Gdynia’s historical road sign typography was reworked to create a recognisable but very legible font.

"We feel privileged to be part this project which celebrates the twinning of two cities. As a Plymothian, I hope this will be a catalyst to literally build bridges between countries, communities and cultures and showcase our city as a positive and creative coastal destination."

Plymouth and Gdynia have been twinned for more than 40 years. Wiktor Dworznikowski, President of the Plymouth Gdynia Twinning Panel, said: “I grew up in Gdynia, but I have called Plymouth my home for the last 20 years.

"I am one of 15,000 Poles living in Plymouth and everything in Plymouth that reminds me of my hometown, Gdynia, is close to my heart. I was delighted when Emma Hewitt proposed the idea of raising funds to update the bridge art over Gdynia Way.

"I have been so impressed with the professional approach from the team and I’m happy that James Edgar the designer used ideas he gained from working with the children from the Plymouth Saturday Polish School and his visit to Gdynia.

"The Gdynia Way Bridge is important to us - it is a symbol of the long-lasting relationship between our cities, which I hope continues long into the future."

  • Find out more about The Road to Mayflower here.
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