'Welcome to Plymouth' art panels will leave lasting Mayflower 400 legacy

Jul 19, 2021

Leading members of Plymouth's construction and design communities have transformed Embankment Road with a colourful makeover as a series of vibrant art panels designed by children and young people from across the city are unveiled.

To mark Plymouth's Mayflower 400 commemorations, working in partnership together, Building Plymouth and the Plymouth Design Forum (PDF) developed the inspired concept of art installation to improve the visitor welcome experience.

Part of a series of ambitious and impactful Road to Mayflower projects led by volunteers, this art project aimed to install an array of imaginative and inspiring panels designed by local youngsters that focused on the theme of Discovery – Telling Plymouth’s history and heritage over the past 400 years.

Keen to be involved in this stunning transformation on one of the city’s key road routes, many local schools fundraised to create their own art panel, working in small teams to develop their designs which were mentored through to completion by one of PDF’s designers.

As well as encouraging the youngsters to find out more about their city’s history, this collaboration also gave them an opportunity to find out more about careers in construction and the world of design, as well as have fun and express their creativity.

Despite the restrictions imposed by the global pandemic, 28 local schools have created striking works of art which have been installed along the GWR depot fencing on Embankment Road ahead of the much-anticipated Sail GP weekend.

Building Plymouth volunteer Sarah Lee, Senior Associate Architect from Stride Treglown, said: "Stride Treglown have been in Plymouth since 1979 and we are keen to support our Ocean City in many ways to enhance its appeal and attraction to both visitors and local residents alike.

"We should all be proud of where we live with its vast and interesting history. We are delighted to be involved with this project to display artwork by local children for all to see as they travel into the centre along Embankment Road either on their daily commute or to enjoy Plymouth in other ways."

Co-founder of the PDF, Darren Foley said: "PDF, the city’s primary professional network of designers and creatives, has been proud to partner with Building Plymouth in a city-wide initiative to engage with local schools to deliver a fantastic display of artworks inspired by Plymouth and its history, as part of the Mayflower 400 commemoration.

"The colourful artworks, which are being displayed in all their glory along Embankment Way, are the result of a direct collaboration between PDF’s members and the schools and their students, often involving classroom visits and online sessions by designers, photographers, illustrators and artists to support and guide the students’ amazing work.

"The incredible artworks will be on display through to December 2021, at which point all the schools will receive their panel as a way of remembering the part that they played in commemorating Plymouth’s role in the Mayflower 400 year anniversary."

A spokesperson on behalf of Network Rail and GWR said: "We are delighted to host this impressive art panel installation along our depot fencing and congratulate all the children and young people involved for their hard work in helping to tell Plymouth’s story through this innovative storyboard."

Cllr Dave Downie, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Children, and Young People, said: "Enthusing our children and young people with the story of Mayflower400 has been really important.

"I am so impressed by the quality of this volunteer-led project and thank our construction and designer volunteers for making such a difference."

The Welcome to Plymouth Art Panel project received sponsorship from Constructing Excellence Plymouth Club, First Thursday Club, Mayflower400, Plymouth Construction Training Group, Stride Treglown, South West Women in Construction and Wilmott Dixon.

Coordinated by Building Plymouth, The Road to Mayflower volunteering team has already improved the visitor welcome experience from Marsh Mills Roundabout through creating The Mayflower Forest, delivering the striking new bridge art design along Gdynia Way and now the installation of these art works.

Find out more about The Road to Mayflower here.

Pictures by Sarah Brittain Edwards at sbephotography.co.uk

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