Judges came together at Townhill Park to pick the winners of the Townhill Community Art Gallery competition. There were over 45 entries, and five categories: most colourful, most thought-provoking, best nature themed, most original, and an overall winner.
Organised by Southampton City Council and SO18 Big Local, the Townhill Community Art Gallery project launched in February of this year. Residents, community groups and local schools across Townhill Park, Harefield and Midanbury all got involved with artwork submitted from people of all ages. CLC Group offered their support by providing blank boards for the budding artists to use as canvases and Balfour Beatty contributed four £25 Hobbycraft vouchers and a £100 Love2Shop voucher as prizes for the five winners.
Organisers were joined by Councillor Satvir Kaur (Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture) and representatives from Balfour Beatty and CLC Group to pick the five winners.
Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture, said: “Homes are so much more than bricks and mortar, but the people that live in them and the sense of community they create. I have been so impressed by the level of imagination and passion poured into the artwork I have seen at the Townhill Community Art Gallery. Seeing the gallery on the hoardings brilliantly showcases each and every piece of work that has been made and I would recommend for anyone to visit the gallery.
“Huge congratulations to our very worthy winners, I cannot wait to see more art from them and others. This project is all about local people and how they express themselves. It tells us about the culture of our communities and the city, which links with our recent bid to become a city of culture. Southampton’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025 will build on projects like this.”
Kim Ayling, Chair of SO18 Big Local, said: “Our community has embraced this project and it is great to see their creativity continue on from our successful Mosaic Way, which features the permanent installation of mosaics created by the community on road signs.
“Projects like this within the community are especially important during the difficult times we are in. Having the gallery on display enables us all to stay connected and enjoy the creativity of our neighbours and friends. We look forward to more community projects like this in the future.”
The judges also got the opportunity to meet two Junior Neighbourhood Wardens, Mason and Mitchell. Mason (aged 12) has recently become a Team Leader while his younger brother Mitchell (aged 9) is proudly following in his brothers’ footsteps and has just joined as a Junior Warden. The Junior Neighbourhood Wardens scheme is designed to encourage children aged 7-12 to engage in community activities, projects and events across Southampton. Junior Wardens are supported to develop a sense of pride and respect in their local neighbourhood and promote a positive image of children in the community. Juniors work alongside the council’s Neighbourhood Wardens and other council services to help improve their local area.
Mason and Mitchell created a piece for the Townhill Community Art Gallery called ‘The Star of After School Clubs’ which is dedicated to their involvement with the 28th Itchen North Scout Group and features the words ‘beavers’, ‘learn’, ‘scouts’, ‘cubs’, and ‘fun’.
The ‘most colourful’ category was won by entry called ‘Fireworks’ which was created by ten local children (Arya, Saphira, Cameron, Harper, Coral, Lucius, Eben, Claire, Rosie, and Bronté) who are aged 3 to 10. A spokesperson for the group said, “The children wanted to do the project as they love being part of the local community and chose fireworks because they felt it represented a celebration.”
Winner of the ‘most thought-provoking’ category was painted by Michelle with her entry ‘Be Kind’. Featuring a warming sunset behind a silhouette of her local community, the painting read: ‘In a world where you can be anything… Be kind’. Michelle said, “I entered a piece for the gallery as I wanted to brighten up the hoarding boards, and also give a message to everyone to be kind after having some antisocial behaviour in my area. If everyone is kind and respectful to everyone else, the world would be a better place!”
‘Best nature themed’ was won by Natasha with her entry ‘Spring Greens’ which depicts a characterful mouse in the undergrowth. Natasha said, “I chose to take part because I loved the idea of a local art gallery for everyone to enjoy. Animals and wildlife are my favourite things to draw and we’re so lucky to be close to so many beautiful areas in SO18 that are home to all sorts of wonderful creatures, big and small.”
Winning ‘most original’ with their ‘Autumn Tree’ entry, Romana and Reece used a variety of techniques to bring their creation to life. With the gold and orange autumnal leaves dotted atop the branches, the painting read: ‘The roots, like a tree, are our foundations. Some are good, some are not so good but… What you grow to be is the most important part. Our choices in life shape our futures. Make good choices and blossom…’. Romana said, “We chose to do the Autumn Tree for its gorgeous colours and the positive words are for the struggles we have at the moment.”
The overall winner, winning a £100 Love2Shop voucher, was entered by eight local children (Lillie, Bella, Jacob, Wesley, Harley, Leila, Jarvis, and Joel) who are aged 3 to 12. Their creation ‘Friends and Family’ captured all the things they love about their local community including their school, football teams and family.
A spokesperson for the overall winners said, “A group of friends got together pre-lockdown to create a canvas showing everything that was special to them. Little did they know the world was about to change and something as simple as drawing together would not be possible for a number of months. This canvas will be a great memory, and thank you for letting us get involved”
If you’ve been inspired, it’s not too late to contribute to the Townhill Community Art Gallery. Get in touch with SO18 Big Local to find out more about how you can get involved.