A new community-lead art trail is set to line the streets and brighten up Old Trafford when it arrives next month.
The OT Art Trail – which has been organised by OT Creative Space and is funded by Arts Council England – sees a number of artists work together with members of the local Manchester community to create six individual large scale murals, which are soon to be painted onto walls and building gable ends around the area, including in Seymour Park and Ayres Road.
The new murals will add to murals and artwork already seen around Old Trafford.
The several new street art sites will be linked together via a downloadable audio tour, which is said to be suitable for people of all ages.
Five artists, all bringing an individual and different style to the mix, have been commissioned by OT Creative Space to paint the new murals, and they include Old Trafford artist and designer Robert Lomas, aerosol and graffiti art specialist Jamie Rennie, fine artist Sam Owen Hull, Russ Meehan, who is also known as Mural Life and graffiti artist, and photographer Martene Rouke.
On top of that, Old Trafford-born spoken word artist and writer Isaiah Hull will also create a piece of spoken word to connect the murals as part of the audio tour.
Each mural on display will centre around the theme ‘community togetherness and diversity’.
Due to several lockdowns and ongoing restrictions amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the workshops that the art trail team had originally planned to hold in local schools, residential homes and other community settings had to be put on the back-burner, and they instead sent out 300 creative packs.
The team also involved the community through a number of activity sessions over Zoom and through social media, as well as with interactive displays in the window of OT Creative Space on Ayres Road.
Several local organisations also lent a hand in recruiting the community on board, and creative packs were even handed out to families in local parks.
That’s not all either, as last month, the trail team ran a prize draw with local shops in the Old Trafford area to encourage residents to submit their ideas, and pupils from two local schools – St Alphonsus RC Primary and Old Trafford Community Academy – were also asked to get involved and share their thoughts on what Old Trafford means to them.
Speaking ahead of the arrival of the OT Art Trail, Lynda Sterling – from OT Creative Space – said: “We had to be very creative in order to maximise community participation at a time when we are being encouraged to stay apart rather than come together.
“Technology has played a part, but also good old fashioned paper and colouring pencils”.
She continued: “To find the locations, we walked around the local area and picked out key places [and] it was then a case of knocking on doors and putting notes through people’s doors if they were out.
“It’s generated a lot of excitement in the area.
“We found people extremely keen to have original artworks painted on their houses, [and] we estimate the murals will last between five and 10 years before they start to fade, so it’s quite a commitment”.
Michelle Griffith, one of the Old Trafford residents who has volunteered her home on Ayres Road as a blank canvas for a mural, has said that the trail is “just what Old Trafford needs”.
“It will bring some colour to an otherwise muted part of Old Trafford.” she continued.
“I’m really excited by the community engagement and getting to work with and alongside the artists.
“It’s bringing together factions of the community that are normally dormant”.
You can find more information ahead of the launch of the OT Art Trail in early May via the OT creative SPACE website here.