Dark subway under Barnes roundabout turned into art work of nature and wild life

Local artist Frank Styles, who was commissioned by the local Barnes ward councillors to help brighten up a local subway.
Artist Frank Styles was commissioned by Barnes ward councillors to help brighten up a subway.

A community arts project has transformed an underpass into a gateway to nature.

In response to concerns by Wearsiders about being uneasy walking through the subway under the Barnes Roundabout (behind Hipsburn Drive), Sunderland City Council’s West Area Committee funded a community arts project which has painted the walls and entrance with murals based on flora and fauna in the area.

Artist Frank Styles was commissioned by the Barnes ward councillors to carry out the work which was completed this week.

Chair of the West Area Committee Councillor Peter Gibson said: “People told us that they didn’t like using the subway because it was dark and depressing, so we decided to do something about it.

“An important part of all area committees is the ‘People’ and ‘Place’ boards which listen to people’s concerns about life in their community, and their suggestions on how it could be improved.

“We can then provide the funding and support to make these improvements possible with environmental projects such as these.”

Chair of the West Area Committee People Board Councillor Rebecca Atkinson added: “We came up with the idea of a mural and engaged artist Frank Styles to work with the community and come up with some design ideas.

“What has been created looks fantastic and we hope that everyone likes the transformation and helps us to protect it for everyone to enjoy.”

Designs are based on the nature and wildlife found around the area, especially Barnes Park, with moor hens, rabbits and even a deer featured in the mural.

Over time primary schools, whose pupils use the underpass, will also become more closely involved with regular litter picks alongside the City Council’s Responsive Local Services team.

Local artist Frank Styles with Coun Michael Essl, Coun Peter Gibson, Coun Rebecca Atkinson and Coun Ian Galbraith and children from Richard Avenue Primary School alongside part of the colourful mural which now adorns the subway at the Barnes.
Artist Frank Styles with Coun Michael Essl, Coun Peter Gibson, Coun Rebecca Atkinson, Coun Ian Galbraith and children from Richard Avenue Primary School alongside part of the colourful mural which now adorns the subway at the Barnes.

The work was completed over six weeks using 142 cans of different coloured spray paint.

It was officially unveiled by artist Frank Styles and Chair of the West Area Committee Councillor Peter Gibson, who were joined by Barnes ward councillors Coun Rebecca Atkinson, Coun Michael Essl and Coun

Ian Galbraith, children from Richard Avenue Primary School and voluntary groups .

Frank Styles, who lives in nearby Grangetown, said: “My previous work on such a large scale was on the side of the Shipwrights pub in North Hylton but this mural use a lot more colour, and uses my experience painting photo-realistic images like those of the butterflies on High Street East to good effect.

“The work has been fun even working outside in December and January when I’ve generally been doing six hour days before my fingers froze up, but it’s been well worth it and I hope everyone likes it.

“Public response has been overwhelmingly in favour of the murals, with people from all walks of life telling me how much they like the designs and paintings.”

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