Wednesday, July 15, 2020

First signs of public artwork spotted on North Prom as Cleethorpes’ “external art gallery” progresses

A visual feast of colour now adorns the shutters of a Cleethorpes café, as work starts on the North Prom’s very own external art gallery.

The first creation, by an artist of international repute, is now in place on the once plain shutters of Brown’s Café at the southerly end of the North Prom. Reflecting the sounds, smells and fun that seaside arcades, rides and treats bring, the unique artwork has been designed to fit with the curves and shapes on which they sit.

With 26 properties down the North Prom, the total area taken up by shutters is a greater space than the Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel. The hope is that other traders and building owners will now get on board to create a display of art that will entice people to walk down the prom in the evenings, out of hours and during the off-peak season.

As the project progresses it is also the intention to get a host of different artists on board with a mix of experience and location – there is an interest in getting regional people involved too and locally Hodson Architects are supporting that aim.

The artwork at Brown’s is the first along the stretch and comes as part of the wider cultural plans for the resort, which is supported by the Coastal Communities Fund, North East Lincolnshire Council and CoastNEL, which represents the private, cultural and third sectors. The scheme is being managed by the council’s regeneration partner ENGIE.

When art project consultants Hazel Colquhoun and Andrew Knight were commissioned, they first visited during the winter when all the shutters were down and the idea was born.

“When Andrew and I visited, we were struck by the area’s natural beauty and we were keen to do something different. What you perhaps tend to find on such shutters is urban art and we thought it would be amazing to have a contemporary art design,” she said.

With the above in mind, they engaged the services of artist Jacqui Poncelet. Jacqui is one of the most established artists of her kind across Europe, having vast experience with work exhibited in some of the best-known galleries, included projects with London’s Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

More importantly for this project, she thrives on the challenge of creating inventive and unusual art in public spaces – for example, her work has transformed the exterior cladding at Edgware Tube Station as part of the capital’s Art on the Underground project.

Again, on her first ever visit to Cleethorpes, she was struck by the charm of this part of the resort: “When people ask me why I wanted to get involved in this project, my answer is why not? It was such a fabulous thing to do. I really loved the idea of working with shutters, which will appear and disappear and attract different audiences at different times.”

“This part of Cleethorpes is completely charming, part of a wonderful coastline and I am excited to return and see the work in place,” added Jacqui.

For café owner, Charles Crawford, the exciting project is one he hopes will spread. The former Hereford school pupil in Grimsby has owned Brown’s for more than four years and is a true advocate for the resort.

Having studied at Grimsby Institute, he was spotted as a teenager by Germain Schwab, the then owner of Winteringham Fields and trained under his wing at the famous restaurant.

New opportunity beckoned and he spent time in Switzerland for six-months of the year. On returning to North East Lincolnshire for the other six months he knew the then owner of Brown’s Café and worked there. When the opportunity came to purchase the business, he had no hesitation.

“We can all take a lot of things for granted and our area suffers from that somewhat. Cleethorpes and this North Prom area is a lovely area to be. We need more people to come along and walk down here. This exciting project will help to achieve that and hopefully inspire people to look at what is going on down here. There is opportunity all around our area for people who have ideas, stick to their ambitions and keep going,” said Charlie.

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