Unsightly spots may get art project boost
AN INNOVATIVE public art project could see Ilfracombe's empty shops and derelict grot spots transformed into colourful works of art this summer.
The ambitious concept could see untidy areas such as the bus station and former Golden Coast arcade site covered and painted by a selection of top artists from around the UK.
The project, named Ilfra-Expo, is the brainchild of former Ilfracombe Arts College student Erin Rickard, 25, who grew up in the town before leaving to study fine art in Swansea.
Erin, who works as a public art coordinator for Locws International in Swansea, said she has been itching to carry out a project in her hometown for years.
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She said: "An artist called Sean Puleston did a similar installation art project in Swansea last year and I really wanted to try it in Ilfracombe because I have a great affection for the area.
"When Damien Hirst's Verity statue was erected I knew it would attract a lot of contemporary art traffic from across Europe, particularly in the summer. I knew this would be the perfect time for the project."
Erin said she has been dragging artists to Ilfracombe for years.
"They absolutely love the town's history of smugglers, pirates and ghosts," she said.
"Some of them are very keen to take part in the project and create works which respond to Ilfracombe's unique character and heritage.
"I'd love people to stumble across these works, take an interest and then spend time looking for others in all the nooks and crannies of the town."
Erin said the project, which would take place in July and include maps and guided tours of the town, could cost a reasonable amount of money.
She said: "To do it well you would be looking at around £12,000 but we could do something for a lot less.
"The size of the project will depend on the level of interest. We are looking into sponsorship and funding and hope to attract free materials and volunteers.
"A lot of the works could even become semi-permanent."
Erin and Sean pitched their idea to Ilfracombe's Marketing group last week.
The group's chairman Councillor Philip Webb said it could be one of the most exciting projects the town has seen.
He said: "As soon as I heard about it I thought it was ideal.
"We want to concentrate on the arts in Ilfracombe and with the tourist season coming up and more visitors coming to see Verity, the timing couldn't be better.
"It also smartens up some of the town's untidy buildings which is a bonus."
Mr Webb said a sub-committee of the marketing group would investigate suitable sites, funding options and artists.
He said: "We are working to a tight time scale but I'm optimistic. I really hope this becomes an annual event."
Anyone who would like to sponsor the project or help out in any way is asked to email Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org.