Stevenage underpasses given urban art makeover after weather cancels festival

PUBLISHED: 10:09 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:09 05 November 2019

The underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob Savill

The underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob Savill

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Stevenage underpasses were given an urban art makeover at the weekend, after artists took a cancelled festival to the streets.

The underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob SavillThe underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob Savill

The network of underpasses by the Oval have been pimped up by a team of world-class urban artists, after the Stevenage Urban Arts Festival - due to be held at St Nicholas Park on Saturday - was unfortunately cancelled.

High winds and inclement weather conditions meant that artists instead took to the streets, spraying the Oval underpasses as a gift to the town.

The underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob SavillThe underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob Savill

Mark Meana, a celebrated urban artist based in Hitchin, co-ordinated the effort alongside Herts County Council and Stevenage Borough Council.

He said: "Gutted isn't the word. We had a decent line-up coming to the festival, but you can't let that get you down. Instead we took the festival to the streets.

The underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob SavillThe underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob Savill

"It's a nice little spot. The walls are a bit stony, but it does give it a bit of character. Everyone was loving that the walls were so bare - virgin walls we call them."

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Councillor Richard Henry, executive member for children, young people and leisure at Stevenage Borough Council, said: "Introducing a trail of interactive art to the town's underpasses and cycleways is a key component of our cultural strategy.
"A big part of what we want to achieve is getting people to use our unique network of cycleways more regularly - tying in with our health and wellbeing strategy - and also as a way of celebrating the diversity of Stevenage and getting footfall into the town.

"To have these world-class artists coming in for free, to offer us their work, is a big win for the town."

The underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob SavillThe underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob Savill

Cllr Sandra Barr - who represents the St Nicholas ward - added that she "absolutely loved the results" having paid a visit to the area on Monday morning.

"In Stevenage we embrace any kind of street art that calls out to the younger generation," she said.

The underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob SavillThe underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob Savill

The Stevenage Urban Arts Festival, due to be rearranged in the spring, was organised as part of Stevenage Re-imagined - the 10-year arts and heritage strategy which aims to make Stevenage a "thriving, creative environment".

One of the major 'cultural ambitions' listed in the strategy is to "plan and deliver a major public art programme and trail, enhancing the extensive network of cycle paths across the town".

The underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob SavillThe underpasses around The Oval area of Stevenage have been sprayed with urban art designs. Picture: Jacob Savill

For more information on the strategy, visit http://www.stevenage.gov.uk/163312/210231/

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