New station artwork aims to welcome passengers and public to Batley
Vibrant new artwork has filled the windows and doorways on the entrance and station platforms at Batley Train Station to welcome passengers and the public to the town.
It is the start of the Batley Street Art Trail, produced and coordinated by Creative Scene.
New artwork and murals are being created by leading local artists, working with young people, and the town will be telling its stories on walls, banners and through a new app, soon to be launched.
Among those who attended the launch of the art trail on Friday was Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater.
She said: “Thank you to everyone who has supported this initiative. This is the outcome of a lot of hard work by so many people and groups - this is what you see when the community comes together, and people support each other.
"We’re very good sometimes at moaning about things people don’t like, so it’s really important to me that we celebrate the fantastic work that goes on locally.”
Local artist Emmeline, who studied at Leeds Arts University, created “The Joy Project” - 26 individual and unique designs that fill the window and door panels at the station.
In summer 2021, she worked with school students in Year eight at Upper Batley High School (UBHS) to introduce them to wood block printing and pattern workshops.
Nial Sherrard, assistant head teacher at UBHS, said: “We’re always promoting community in school, so it’s been a real opportunity for the boys to work with the artist.
"It’s been lovely to bring them to the train station - some of them didn’t even know we had a train station!
“So now, they have said they’re going to bring their parents and families here to see it.
“It’s nice to produce something and see it go from concept to reality, and the boys have a real pride in the work that’s here at Batley Train Station.”
Abubakar, a student at UBHS, said: “When people come to Batley Train Station, they will see that there’s loads to do in Batley, it’s not boring.
“We’re only just youngsters, and artists coming into our lives like this gives us a good name, and we can say in future jobs that we’ve worked with artists.
“These workshops have taught me that even if my work isn’t perfect, I can show people and be confident in it.”
The striking paintings refer to Batley's architecture and the contours of the hills around the town and the River Calder.
Objects found around the site - including bedspring coils, as well as textile patterns - create a rich patchwork of colour and shapes that capture the diverse local cultures.
Artist Emmeline said: “You don’t need a lot to make something beautiful. Design and art are around us everywhere, from the floor to the buildings, to what we are wearing.
"The biggest message I want to get across is how important art and design is to the curriculum today, for young people to learn these creative learning and thinking skills to apply in their wider lives.”
This project is funded by Kirklees Council and part of its #HEARTyourtown initiative in North Kirklees.
Councillor Will Simpson, cabinet member for culture and Greener Kirklees, said: “The creative sector in Kirklees has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic.
"We are proud to be supporting artists to take a lead in brightening up our towns as we open up after lockdown through the #HEARTyour town project.”
Tony Baxter, regional director at Northern, said: “We are delighted to partner with Creative Scene and the Friends of Batley Station as part of the street art trail and I’d like to thank them for organising the fantastic launch event.
"As well as complementing our broader station improvement strategy, this colourful work is welcoming for anyone arriving at the station and is something for everyone in the community to enjoy.”
Richard Isaac, regional community and sustainability manager at Northern Trains Ltd, has been closely involved in the development of the trail.
He said: “What we have achieved with the new artworks at Batley Train Station has both brightened up the station and brought the community together.
"There’s a real community ownership with lots of young people involved. That’s just what we want.”
Dean Howard, Batley Train Station manager, said: “To get school children involved in a project like this is fantastic.
"It’s the pride in the local community that knocks me back. This new artwork makes the arrival at the station really welcoming for everyone.”
The Friends of Batley Train Station group is a key partner. Chair and local councillor Gwen Lowe said: “Batley Train Station was first opened in 1848, so it’s really historic.
"The Friends of Batley Train Station (FOBS) are so proud of it, we get people from all over the country and from other parts of the world. This station makes people smile!”
Later in the autumn, the next new artwork will be unveiled on the large gable end wall of Redbrick Mill.
"The Tree of Life" has been designed by artist Tom Wood, who works out of the Mill at Redbrick Artists studios.
Tom has run workshops with year seven students from Batley Girls High School using a combination of painting, drawing, digital art and collage.
The plan is then to develop the trail across the town with new digital artworks that can be viewed through an app.
Nancy Barrett, creative director for Creative Scene, said: “Creative Scene developed the trail and worked with our fantastic partners and artists with an idea is to celebrate Batley and its people and mark a hopeful new start for the town in 2021.
"Hundreds of school children and local residents are getting involved in creative workshops to develop the designs and tell their stories of the town.
"From next year, you will be able to follow a trail around the town and interact with the artworks through your phones.
"We will be using the latest augmented reality techniques to bring the works to life with music, poetry and animations.
"We are really keen to hear from local Batley business - big or small - who’d like to get involved and be part of the trail.”