Hedgehogs are quite literally the talk of the town in Ipswich at the moment. In a plea to raise awareness about wildlife welfare in the area, an artist has been commissioned to paint a mural of this shy, often overlooked mammal.
Street Artist, ATM, has painted a vast mural of a hedgehog in profile on the gable end of an Ipswich pub. His work, a mural which can’t be missed, has received much acclaim from both local residents and individuals from further afield (if you’ll excuse the pun).
The mural may look sweet, however the message is strong. The work is meant to signify the importance of these small but significant animals to Ipswich and the UK’s wider wildlife and ecosystems. On their website, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust confirms that the recently unveiled image both honours “Ipswich as a Hedgehog Hotspot” and also publicises “Hedgehog Awareness Week”.
ATM has reportedly developed a name for himself within the art community for depicting images of endangered species in urbanised city or town settings. In their article on the project, the BBC reference ATM’s aspiration that the works encourage individuals to think more about their ever-threatened natural environment and in this instance, the humble hedgehog. He hopes it will urge people to “not use weed killers on their plants, not use slug pellets… think about hedgehogs’ needs,” the BBC article confirms.
The mural is part of a large scale project to help hedgehogs more generally. In 2016, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust created a new role, that of Hedgehog Officer, to be based in Ipswich to respond to the increased numbers of sightings of the animals in and around the area.
According to a BBC article on the subject, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s appointment of the Hedgehog Officer, was no small or easy task. The Trust was apparently inundated with applications from individuals from around the world. They finally settled, however, on Ms Alexandra North who studied Zoology and has been central to Ipswich’s hedgehog mural project.
Commissioning public art, such as this mural can have benefits that go far beyond adding to the artistic and visual landscape within a community, they can pack a serious message and raise awareness about significant issues and also act as a call to action. In the great graffiti art tradition, an important message can conveyed as well as being a fun and interactive medium.
To find out more about commissioning public art works by contemporary artists please contact us at Jessica@vedocorporateart.com.
For centuries, civic art programmes have been an essential component to any bustling art community. Major cities across the world have been shown to invest in street and public art whether to improve the aesthetics of an environment or just engage with the local community. Such valuable art programmes form the backbone to many international development schemes with beautiful large scale artworks populating concourses, lobby’s and even the sides of derelict buildings.
What has happened in the city of Toronto is an extension of this idea, and representative of many other cities. Once plagued by illegal graffiti scrawled on its civic spaces, the local government has commissioned bonafide art projects in the hope of alleviating these ‘tags’. Rather than chastising those who have graffitied the city, the council have employed individuals and artists to beautify its streets in a modern, quite alternative way. This method has arisen after numerous attempts to punish those tagging the city fell at the wayside. The new approach is to employ artists who are urged to formally take ownership of and pride in their artistic projects.
Lilie Zendel is a pioneer of this new approach and manages the company leading the way. Street Art Toronto, or StART as it is known, helps both artist and the city by commissioning works and ensuring the graffiti artists are following programmes for creating art rather than indiscriminately scrawling images and text on any old space or wall. The effects have been seismic among the artistic and broader communities and the visuals, really quite beautiful.
In an interesting article on the subject by The Art Newspaper, Zendel is reported as saying, “The whole programme has sensitised people that streets shouldn’t just be about advertising.” This is certainly evident in many of the works commissioned, for instance the Outside the Box series which had artists decorate specified, large utility boxes which litter the urban pavements. The works produced are very powerful and possess a real diversity of style and subject matter.
Inevitably, this programme has roused some scepticism, however, a system has been put in place to ensure the project does not get abused. The Art Newspaper reports that, “The commissioning is also regulated. The owners of the walls must agree to keep these “ephemeral” works up for at least five years, and the sponsors must also allot 5% of a project’s budget to maintenance, which can include removing any non-commissioned graffiti.”
For many, this project is the best way of engaging with the local community whilst maintaining a structured, productive discussion with graffiti artists. Certainly, the face of Toronto has become more and more colourful.