Southampton City Council’s landmark regeneration of Townhill Park has received a brilliant splash of colour and creativity, thanks to the talents of local residents who turned their hands to mosaic making in the months leading up to, and during, the coronavirus lockdown.
The designs feature on new road signs installed by principal contractor Balfour Beatty during recent highways improvements along Meggeson Avenue and form part of the council’s wider redevelopment of the area which will see up to 665 new homes built.
Each mosaic – inspired by flowers, birds and animals common to the Townhill Park and Harefield areas – has been painstakingly digitised, so they could be transferred to the road signs with every detail intact.
The council and Balfour Beatty have been working closely with the SO18 Big Local community group, which commissioned Will Rosie, the guerrilla artist responsible for Southampton’s infamous Mr Men mosaics across the city, to help residents create a themed “Mosaic Way”. The aim of the project was to bring the community together and enable them to put a distinctive stamp on the place they’re proud to call home.
The residents started creating and installing the Mosaic Way designs last year, but the project was thrown a curveball when lockdown restrictions suddenly happened in March, meaning mosaic workshops were cancelled and people were driven apart by social distancing.
Undeterred, residents collected “make at home” packs of mosaic materials and exchanged instructions and advice over a dedicated WhatsApp group so their creative endeavours could continue remotely.
The result, in addition to the road signs, is a fantastic 60-mosaic trail, which has brightened up the streets and provides interest on residents’ daily walks.
SO18 Big Local Chair, Kim Ayling, grabbed a shovel to help Scott Allen – who is working on behalf of Balfour Beatty – install her fox mosaic road sign on Meggeson Avenue. Kim said: “My design is of a fox we call Tippy who we often see from my kitchen window, so I’m really proud to have it in such a prominent place. The project has been a labour of love for everyone involved, from the first ideas, to overcoming the practical challenges of lockdown and now having the mosaics on public display. We are so grateful to the council and Balfour Beatty for supporting our project and the great work they’re doing to make Townhill Park an even better place to live.”
Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture, Southampton City Council, said: “Homes are so much more than bricks and mortar – they are about people and the sense of community they create. Through our Townhill Park regeneration programme, we want the local community to help shape their streets and neighbourhood, and the Mosaic Way is an amazing and inspiring example of families coming together to make this happen. A huge thank you to SO18 Big Local, who have used art and culture to bring this redevelopment back to those that matter most, the people who live there.”
Mosaic Way is a joint project between SO18 Big Local and Training for Work In Communities Southampton (TWICS) and funded by the People’s Health Trust Lottery and the National Lottery Community Fund.
The full map of locations can be found at SO18biglocal.org.uk/mosaic-way. For more details about the Townhill Park regeneration programme, plus the council’s other new-build projects, please visit southampton.gov.uk/newhomes.