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News article created on 27 January 2014

Community art project unveiled in Birmingham

Unsightly graffiti blights towns and cities across the world but one group in Birmingham is fighting back, with a new urban art project along one of the city’s famous canals.

Backed by voluntary donations from local people and businesses and with help from the Bond Company, we've unveiled a new piece of graffiti art along the Grand Union Canal in Digbeth.

The new mural is part of the Heartlands Canal Ring project which aims to connect communities with the waterways. Thought up by the Bond Company artist in residence, Paul Hirst, his idea was to create a new and interesting piece of artwork along a 150-foot stretch of wall that had been targeted by vandals. The area is regularly covered in unsightly graffiti making the canal look unloved and unwelcoming.

Generous donations

Taking several weeks to complete, the project was only made possible thanks to the generous donations from members of the public and the businesses based at the Bond who raised the £5,000 needed to make the project happen.

The final design was painted by local artist Graffiti 4 Hire and the new mural is meant to represent life along the waterways whilst highlighting its special link with local communities and well known landmarks in and around Birmingham.

Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the West Midlands waterways partnership for the Canal & River Trust, said: “For too long this stretch of waterway has been underused by local people and we really want to change that. The Heartlands Canal Ring project aims to show people how wonderful the canals can be and how lucky we are to have them right on our doorstep. 

“Over the last few years we have been beavering away at trying to get the community to become more involved with their local waterways. The graffiti project at the Bond has been one of the highlights of this project so far and really brightens up this stretch of canal and we’re all really pleased with the end result.”

Transformed

Paul Hirst, artist in residence at the Bond Company, said: “Our business and events centre sits right next to the canal and directly opposite the wall and it has really been depressing to see the decline of this area with graffiti tags and random scribbles appearing week after week. I am delighted that my ideas and concept have reached fruition and transformed this stretch of the canal into something we can all enjoy.

“It is great to feel that I have made a difference and I look forward to spending a lot more time exploring the local canal and seeing what else I can discover and gain inspiration from.”

The Heartlands Canal Ring Project is a unique initiative in the heart of Birmingham aimed at connecting communities with their local canal in fresh and interesting ways. It seeks to explore the potential of the area’s waterways to benefit local residents and contribute to the health, safety and wellbeing of the wider community. The project links the communities in the four wards of Nechells, Saltley, Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook.