8 Feb 2016
Rejuvenating the High Street through Art
It was a rather unusual day of business for Loughborough newsagent, Ashby Square News on Saturday (6 February 2016). The shop’s entire product range was rebranded as part of Loughborough University’s Market Town project, an innovative art programme that invited artists to reimagine the high street.
The Ashby Square News rebranding is part of a series of commissions developed by the University. Inspiration for the project came when Loughborough was selected as a pilot project town following the Mary Portas Review of the UK’s high streets carried out in 2011. The project’s stimulus came from her comment:
“High Streets must be ready to experiment, try new things, take risks and become destinations again. They need to be spaces and places that people want to be in. High streets of the future must be a hub of the community that local people are proud of and want to protect.”
Over the last year six artists have worked with local people, students and staff from the University, schools and a range of community groups from across the local area.
A day of celebrations, the town’s first ever ‘Market Day’, was hosted by the University on Saturday to celebrate the culmination of three of the projects.
The Ashby Square News project, Brand News, involved well known artist Kathrin Bohm and designers, An Endless Supply, holding a series of hands-on workshops where local people had a go at designing their own ‘Loughborough branded’ items to investigate whether redesigning familiar branded products affects their popularity. On Saturday residents were able to see the full range of products – over hundreds of items - on display.
On Saturday residents were also invited to see and hear the outcomes from the project Loughborough Records Presents Presence, a pop up recording studio designed by artist Can Altay. Altay’s project has been created to give local musicians the chance to record music, complete with the assistance of a professional sound engineer and instruments. Its theme has been discovering a sense of place through music. A range of artists, from a 14-year old first time singer to a 60-year old folk artist, have been using the studio throughout January.
Europa and illustrator Peter Nencini were also on hand on the day. These artists have been working on creating a visual identity for Loughborough based on research conducted locally. Their work will be presented later this year via a specially designed website and a series of large-scale art works that will be displayed on the town’s billboards. On Market Day they presented an archival wall of research material and shared some of the processes and techniques applied to this commission through a drop-in workshop.
To read the full release, please click here.