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Sandwell students brush up on local culture for rail station mural


Partners of an exciting new project for Smethwick Rolfe Street station have met to see the draft designs produced by local students to bring new life to the station through community art.

Jointly funded by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), London Midland and Network Rail, the project forms part of the community art module on the BTEC Art course at Sandwell College. This has involved the students researching the local area and asking customers and residents what should be included in their designs.

The work is being supported by Steve Field RBSA, a local sculptor, muralist and mosaicist who coordinated Dudley’s Millennium Sculpture Trail. Steve is the resident artist and public art advisor to Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and is a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Funding partners with some of the student designs for the new art work at Smethwick Rolfe Street station
Funding partners with some of the student designs for the new art work at Smethwick Rolfe Street station

 

The brief for the design is ‘Smethwick Going Forward’, which aims to reflect the culture of the local area, with its diverse languages, food and communities. The new project replaces a previous mural, completed in 1985 by Parkside Junior School (now Victoria Academy, Smethwick), which has now faded through weathering. Occupying an archway in the platform wall, and measuring 19.25 sq. metres, the new piece of art is the most ambitious project yet of London Midland’s continued focus of working with communities.

The new mural is one of a trio of community projects for Smethwick Rolfe Street station, which will include a work experience project by students on the building course at Sandwell College. The group will be developing their plastering, carpentry and painting skills to transform the former Station Master’s office into a station history and mural project exhibition space and meeting room.

A new group of station adopters, including members of the Abrahamic Foundation Outreach in Smethwick and London Midland staff, will also be breathing colour into the former gardens on platform one.

Babs Coombes, rail partnerships manager for TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) added: “The mural is a great example of how the community can get involved in their local railway and have a say in enhancing its environment.”

Faye Lambert, head of community rail at London Midland, added: “The new mural created by the students of Sandwell College will provide a lasting tribute to the local community, partners and railway. It serves as a great example of how individuals and groups working together can regenerate local stations and help the railway get closer to the communities it serves.”

Steve Field said: “It is great to have so many partners on board. I am delighted to be working with Sandwell College on this community project. The students have really embraced it and their initial designs demonstrate their enthusiasm and highly original creativity, which well reflect the brief of Smethwick Going Forward.”