Contributed by David Wright, secretary of Storrington in Bloom
An initiative such as Storrington In Bloom brings out the best in people, and stimulates innovative thinking.
One such idea came from Pat Mansbridge, resident of Storrington, and a member of the horticultural society, and volunteer with Storrington In bloom. She commented: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could paint a mural of flowers and trees on the McCarthy and Stone hoarding on Manley’s Hill?”
This germ of an idea led to confirmation, from the site manager of the development, that the hoarding would be in place for at least ten months and that, subject to the approval of his head office he would have no objections.
David Wright, secretary of Storrington in Bloom then approached the McCarthy and Stone head office, and not only obtained permission to paint a mural, but also was offered a grant to cover both the materials and any staff expenses, plus the sponsorship of a flower bed in the town, as a gesture to help McCarthy and Stone be seen as a part of the community.
Who should paint this mural?
The Storrington Art Group felt that their collective age might prove a little inhibitive, and eventually, the idea of involving students of a local school in a worthwhile community project with older adults grew.
Rydon Community College’s headteacher Allison Murphy was enthusiastic, and her art teacher, Emma Modder grasped the opportunity of her students undertaking a community project in a different medium with alacrity.
In order to produce images capable of transforming nine panels three feet by seven feet six inches, both students and teacher designed a set of pictures for David and Pat to see. The designs were enthusiastically welcomed, and plans set in place for purchase of materials, parents to be consulted and consent given for off-site activity, and ladders, dust sheets and willing pairs of hands to be provided by the Storrington in Bloom volunteers.
The developers and the County Times were alerted for press coverage of the event, while back in school, the students and Emma were also creating plant pots for display in the vacant shop taken over to promote the Storrington In Bloom project.
The project started at Rydon Community College by taking photos and measuring up the site. The students were all surprised how large the paintings were going to be! With this in mind it was decided that the images should be simplified into silhouettes and that bright colours should be used in the background. Different images were chosen to reflect the local community; from local wild flowers to more specific themes for Storrington such as the stork. The students each designed and painted the backgrounds using the colours of the rainbow as inspiration. The students have worked very hard on creating artwork for the site that will look exciting and beautiful.
Two days prior to the planned painting Storringon In Bloom volunteers washed all the hoarding down to create a clean surface, as up to 16,200 vehicles are currently passing along that stretch of the A283 every day!
Come Tuesday June 25, the sun shone on the mural team, and brushes were everywhere! Teacher Emma Modder, together with nine students and Karen Bounds, walked the mile from Rydon College to Manley’s Hill armed with paint, brushes and overalls.
The McCarthy and Stone staff on site were of great assistance in providing all the necessary facilities, and in slowing traffic with cones and road signs. Vibrant rainbow colours were applied on 14 panels totalling a length of 40 feet, by seven feet six inches high. Day two saw the birth of birds trees and plants applied all in black silhouette, together with the names of all students, the school crest, and Storrington In Bloom.
Thanks are due to McCarthy and Stone, both head office and site staff, for embracing the challenge and helping to make it happen, to Allison Murphy, headteacher of Rydon Community College and her team who all grasped the excitement of the project, and saw nothing as a barrier, and to the volunteers of Storrington In Bloom group for steering it to fruition, and ensuring the school team were able to work in safety and harmony.
A truly spectacular display is now in place for visitors and residents alike to admire, and due to the complexity of the development, will remain in place for another seven months!