Upper Shops Hoarding Murals
Cardiff Council's Neighbourhood Regeneration instigated this project after consultation with the local community, who felt that the current state of the Upper Shops shopping area on Beechley Drive was poor and stigmatised the area. Four of the shops were vacant and the Council's plans to re-develop the shopping centre were at least two to three years away from being implemented. Therefore as a temporary measure to improve the appearance of the shops, it was decided to place hoardings in front of the empty shops and to commission an artist to paint them.
Cardiff based Louise Shenstone was selected, who has much experience of mural painting both through her current role as a Public art co-ordinator for Rhondda Cynon Taff Community Arts and previously from her time as an artist member of Pioneer Arts Cooperative. Her brief was to work with three local primary schools, Pentrebane Primary School, Ysgol Coed Y Gof and Holy Family RC School, as well as Waterhall Youth Centre to develop designs. She asked the primary school pupils what kind of shops they thought would open at Upper Shops once it was re-developed and the children drew pictures of the goods that would be sold in those shops, such as a greengrocers and hardware store. The murals act as shop fronts and the children's drawings have been enlarged and accurately reproduced on the hoardings.
Shenstone approached the youth centre workshops differently, facilitating digital art workshops using a camera and laptops with the photoshop application, helping participants to create their own 'Pop art' style portrait. These workshops also became an opportunity to offer some work experience to an art student from the Cardiff School of Art and Design who helped facilitate a few of the workshops and gained an insight into delivering an art project with young people.
The final murals are sunny and bold in their colour scheme, with bright pink, turquoise, yellow and purple standing out. The doorways to the painted shop fronts are painted trompe l'oeil and create an inviting feeling to the hoardings, a promising signal towards the future use of the site.