Community creativity at Brighthelm

Photo:Painting the new mural

Painting the new mural

A new mural in North Road

Background

Brighthelm Church & Community Centre in North Road has a new project under way. They are keen to make improvements to the quality of life for local people and realise that public green spaces, like the Brighthelm Garden, are a precious commodity in a densely populated urban setting like the North Laine.  Few local residents are lucky enough to have gardens of their own and for many neighbours, visitors and nearby office workers the chance to stroll through the garden, enjoy the flowers and wildlife, and pause to soak up a bit of peace and quiet, is a highly valued antidote to the hubbub of daily Brighton life.

Brighthelm garden

Over the past two years, the Brighthelm volunteer Garden Group has been working tirelessly every week to transform the garden into a safe, community-focused space. Thanks to their amazing efforts and support from the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, the grass is now cut regularly, hedges are trimmed, flowers and shrubs have been planted, vegetables are being grown, a mini-orchard has been set up and a beautiful wildflower bed created. Events can now be hosted in the garden, including concerts, family activity days and the wonderful street food market, Street Diner, held every Friday.

A new approach

The Brighthelm plan now is to take a longer term and more imaginative approach to managing the site, which they think will help encourage more use of the garden and inspire positive rather than negative reactions to the space.

Community First funding

Brighthelm has been awarded a £2,000 Community First grant to help them work with the local community to create a new mural in the heart of Brighton. They wanted to transform the alleyway at the side into a space that everyone in the community feels part of and the kind of space which reflects what the community would like to seeWorking in conjunction with their neighbours, NCP car parking and Baron Homes, they ran a competition, seeking proposals based around the themes of community and sustainability. They received a range of entries of very high calibre, but the overall winner, chosen by a judging panel which included a representative of the North Laine Community Association was local inclusive arts practitioner and street artist, SoS.

Why was SoS chosen?

SoS was chosen because not only was her design judged 'inspiring' and 'beautiful', but also her background in inclusive arts and efforts to involve members of marginalised communities in her work really impressed the judges. SoS took the themes of community and sustainability and looked at the big picture – how do they link together, and what is it that creates them? She portrays Brighton, people, nature and the elements, weaving them together to create something beautiful and lasting.

The project

SoS has been working with a stellar team of volunteers to construct the mural. A group of young adults working with the charity Tomorrow’s People, which aims to help young people learn new skills and find work, prepared the wall and laid the base coat. This paved the way for workplace volunteers from the Brighton branch of City & Guilds Kineo, who donated their time and creative skills to help craft stencils and add layers. Meanwhile, SoS has been mentoring local women, involving them with all aspects of the design and implementation, with the aim to get more women involved and represented in street art. Given that this is the largest mural undertaken by a woman in Brighton, it’s a really great place to start!

 

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 235, July/August 2015]

 

This page was added on 10/08/2015.

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