28 February 2024

A giant art mural is being painted on the boards outside Debenhams: Here’s why

The former boarded up Debenhams building is being given a facelift by an art teacher from a local school.

Saddened by the sight of the boarded-up shop in the heart of the city centre, Sam Redmill, from Bishop Wordsworth’s School, was inspired to brighten up the space with a large mural.

Speaking to Love Salisbury she said, “I am bringing the countryside into the city. I have been walking past this building for quite a long time and I just thought it needs some brightening up. I have heard so many people complain about it and I thought, ‘what if I could get a mural painted on it before the Christmas market to bring a bit of happiness and countryside into the city’. I want to make people smile when they walk past it rather than criticise it”.

To get her idea in motion Sam emailed the CEO of Bradbeers, who own the Debenhams building and asked whether she could paint a mural on the boards.

“They said ‘go for it’. When I pitched it to school the Head Master Stuart Smallwood was very happy for me to do it and gave me the time off”.

The mural has become an art project for the whole school with students, staff and parents all contributing to the painting. Head Master Mr Smallwood was hard at work when we went to visit, taking a short break from his painting he said, “This boarded up area that has been here since Debenhams sadly closed is right in the city centre, and I think it is a good idea to brighten the environment and make Salisbury look as if it is recovering from the COVID disaster that has hit us all.

“It’s great to have art in the public domain. It is great to have art that people can look at for free, and I think it is also something to do with regeneration in Salisbury – it’s a signal from us as a school. As the school comes out of hibernation, we also feel that Salisbury should be on the up as well, and this is hopefully a sign of hope that that is happening”.

Head Master Mr Smallwood and art teacher Sam Redmill

Next week the art students of Bishop Wordsworth’s School will be down at the site to help out their teacher.

“I am bringing all of year seven down next week and they are going to do some stencilling in the foreground so they can be a part of it and they are really excited to be involved”.

Wondering if the design is inspired by any Salisbury landscape in particular, Sam says she designed it herself based on what she sees on her dog walks around Salisbury and Amesbury.

“Anything that has come into my mind has been put into it. It is amazing how many people have walked past and recognised their local landscapes. The spire will also be incorporated into it so it will be recognisable as a Salisbury scene.

“My hope is after Christmas I can adapt it from a winter scene and add some snowdrops and maybe a rapeseed field as we come into spring.

“I have never done anything on this scale but I am loving it. It’s really good fun. Passersby have been amazing to the point where I can’t get enough done because people are saying ‘this is amazing’, and thanking me for doing it.”

“It really is a sign of everything that surrounds Salisbury, all this wonderful countryside and it’s a good way to celebrate it and give us all hope of better things to come,” added Mr Smallwood.

Written by
Beth Doherty
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Written by Beth Doherty