New mural unveiled at Redbrick Mill as part of Batley Art Trail

Batley residents and visitors to the town can now enjoy a new mural created by Tom Wood and commissioned by Creative Scene.

By Jessica Barton
Friday, 8th April 2022, 3:45 pm

“The Tree of Life” is the second artwork as part of the Batley Art Trail, commissioned and curated by Creative Scene and supported as part of Kirklees Council’s “Heart Your Town” initiative.

The mural - which is a colourful design celebrating nature, the environment and new life in the town - was unveiled on Thursday (April 7) at Redbrick Mill, Batley.

Nancy Barrett, creative director for the Batley Art Trail, said it aims to bring the spirit of Batley and its people out onto the streets through art installations such as “The Tree of Life” mural.

Sign up to our daily Dewsbury Reporter Today newsletter

The mural was unveiled on Thursday (April 7) at Redbrick Mill, Batley.

During a speech at the unveiling of the mural, Nancy said: “We have been absolutely delighted to launch this work of art this afternoon.

“We originally got some funding from Kirklees Council to start an art trail in Batley and we have done two commissions so far.

“We started a year ago and of course with Covid-19 it stopped and started, but Tom worked with schools virtually and with artists from the Redbrick Academy, who have all had an input into the design.

“And then, we had quite a long process around looking at the installation, fabrication, working out how to get the art work up, what the fixings would be and trying to find a dry window.

The mural is a colourful design celebrating nature, the environment and new life in the town

“But I hope you agree it makes a massive dramatic impact.

“It is a really beautiful piece of work and we are really proud to have commissioned it and to have been working with Tom.”

Tom, the artist behind the mural, grew up in Liversedge and is a graduate of the Batley School of Art, where he later went on to teach.

He has been commissioned to paint portraits - including of Prince Charles, Alan Bennett and Barbara Windsor - and has work in the collection at the National Portrait Gallery.

The first commission as part of the Batley Art Trail is featured at Batley train station and was designed by Emmeline North.

Tom said: “I spent a lot of the early part of lockdown basically being driven by my wife to do some gardening, but what that meant was - which was crucial - I spent a lot of time outdoors, looking at trees and listening to bird songs.

“That made me think that I actually wanted to do a large piece of work which is very simple and straightforward - tree, animals and birds, that’s it.

“From that I hope that people will find some purpose or inspiration in connecting with or reconnecting with the natural world.

“What was lovely was the enthusiasm that everybody showed, which I was driven and encouraged by.

The project has been generously supported by Redbrick Mill and owner Joe Battye.

“The reason why it is on that wall and why it’s out there in the public, is so the community can share it and so it can belong to them as much as it belongs to us.”

The project has been generously supported by Redbrick Mill and owner Joe Battye, who was delighted by the installation of Tom’s mural at the side of Redbrick Mill.

Joe said: “We were asked by Tracy Brabin just after the lockdowns if we could get involved in providing some support. Initially, it was just to provide the wall space but it grew legs and became the piece that it is now.

“The previous piece of work that was there lasted for 25 years and hopefully this piece will be there for another 25.

“It is something a bit different and something that will hopefully make people smile when they come past.”

At the moment no other murals are planned to be commissioned.

From the left; Joe Battye, Tom Wood and Amy Foster.

However, Creative Scene are currently planning a virtual Batley Art Trail at significant sites across the town.

Nancy said: “The next step is to create a virtual trail which you will view through augmented reality on your phone.

“There will be particular sites around Batley where you can download an app, view something such as a QR code and that will trigger a piece of art.

“We are going to build this whole virtual trail and hopefully people will get out and about, have a healthy walk and find out something new about the community.”

To find out more about Creative Scene and to keep updated with new commissions, visit https://www.creativescene.org.uk/