The third year of Blackpool’s Sand, Sea & Spray Urban Art Festival has come to a close and it has been bigger and better than ever, proving that the town’s appetite for culture is alive and well.
Amongst the numerous works dotted around town, some in places you can’t miss and some in corners that may need a little adventuring to find, are two of the most iconic pieces the event has seen so far.
In the first year of the event the car park on the corner of Cookson Street and Church Street was dominated by the arrival of a huge piece by Australian artist Smug. The red DJ girl has taken pride of place on this main route into town, and has become the face of the event. This year it has been replaced. In order to prepare for this it had to be painted over with black paint, an undertaking which stopped traffic and drew angered cries from drivers and passers-by, so proving the effect the artwork has had on the local area. The building it is on was earmarked for demolition but, because of the piece, it has been left standing and leased at a discount rate in order to keep it standing and occupied. Smug returned to replace it with a new piece, depicting a magician, a nice reference to Blackpool’s love of variety shows, which has already proven to be just as popular as the previous image, and will ensure the building remains standing for a good while longer.
On South Beach Promenade, Bristol favourite Inkie has transformed a Blackpool icon into an Art Nouveau masterpiece. One of Blackpool’s heritage trams has been given a permanent home on the seafront and, after last year being decorated for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, this year it has been transformed by one of the biggest names in urban art. In a nod to the roots of graffiti writing on the trains of the New York subway Inkie has given the tram a contemporary makeover. It now shines in gold, with an image of a female face depicted in a classic Art Nouveau style, one of Inkie’s trademark images. With its position on the Promenade, in an area which contains many controversial pieces of public art, this will show to the general public the effect of street art on transforming the perception of what street art is, and what can be achieved with art in the public arena.
Blackpool has been a hive of creativity over the whole weekend, with the amazing work on display on Adelaide Street, at the Cookson Street car park and in the sun lounge on North Pier standing as a testament to the tireless work of the organisers, volunteers and artists, who have given themselves over fully to the event to leave a mark of colour and passion on the town. As an example, on Sunday afternoon a number of artists, who had already painted at other sites during the event, took the opportunity, just because they wanted to paint, to find some empty wall space on the side of The Old Rock Factory, the central hub for the whole event, and added to the already impressive collection of work down the Deansgate side street. This location now has the stamp of numerous artists on it, and there is possibly no better calling card for the effect of urban art on previously neglected space.
Street art has found a home in Blackpool and, with a number of homegrown artists involved, and painters coming from all around the world to brighten up the streets, it is here to stay.
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