A new art wall has been installed in Rainham Precinct as part of a project to revitalize the mall.
The ‘Precinct People’ display is the work of David Frankum, who spent time sketching passers-by downtown – where the results are now on display for all to see on giant display boards.
David posted on Facebook: “I’ve always been a great admirer of ‘public art’, especially knowing that when done correctly it can make a huge difference to the well-being of a community. So when I had the chance to producing an installation for my home area, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I spent several days simply drawing people I saw in the shopping area into my little sketchbook in my pocket.
“Even though there are 10 people on display, there are many more studies that I will be showing at the Medway Open Studios & Arts Festival.
“I just wanted to celebrate and defend ‘the mundane’ and the ‘ordinary’, especially since many of the small participatory acts that we enjoy and ‘take for granted’ have been denied us in recent years.
“Another aspect behind the piece is my fascination with the idea that we are all passing strangers, but there is always a sense of belonging when we find ourselves participating in the same act, albeit for a few seconds.”
The project is part of a wider ‘Welcome Project’, a Medway Council plan to honor the town centers of Strood and Rainham, which commissioned eight Medway artists to create outdoor galleries of temporary artwork.
David said it was overwhelming to hear praise from passers-by when he went to visit the mural.
And he added: “The positive effect the piece immediately generated is wonderful to hear.
“Photos never do art justice, so don’t hesitate to visit the mural, which lasts for three months, pose with it, be part of the community and celebrate those little beautiful moments in life, be it a little smile. Go and enjoy! It’s for you.”
He also thanked Allison Young and Medway Arts for their help and support for the project.
The artwork is a welcome addition to the center, which has suffered business losses and instances of anti-social behaviour, including a recent vandalism attack at Center Cafe.
The mural has so far proved a big hit with visitors to the mall, with hundreds showing their approval on social media.
“Like it; there is a beginning and an end to the series. Very cool and interesting work. Great job,” said one commenter, while another added: “I absolutely love it!!! Congratulations – there is only one thing that disappoints me and that is that it’s only been there for 3 months. What a fantastic addition to what has become an extremely uninteresting district. It’s absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait to see it in person!”
However, there were some concerns about the artwork’s future, and another fan added: “Wonderful… Let’s hope the little vandals who damaged the stuff at the police station leave these beautiful local artworks alone.”
This Welcome Project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund’s Welcome Back Fund and managed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
The aim is to create and promote a safe environment for commerce and tourism, particularly on high streets, as economies attempt to recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.