Wildlife colour explosion brightens up Sunderland subway

Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive by local artist Frank Styles
Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive by local artist Frank Styles
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A Wearside art project has transformed a dull and dank underpass to a gateway into nature.

Renowned city artist Frank Styles was commissioned by ward councillors to paint the walls and entrance to the subway under Barnes Roundabout with murals based on flora and fauna.

Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive by local artist Frank Styles'From left Coun's Ian Galbraith, local artist Frank Styles, Rebbecca Atkinson, Michael Essl and Peter Gibson

Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive by local artist Frank Styles'From left Coun's Ian Galbraith, local artist Frank Styles, Rebbecca Atkinson, Michael Essl and Peter Gibson

Designs are based on the nature and wildlife found around the area, especially Barnes Park, with moor hens, rabbits and even a deer featured.

Frank, who lives in nearby Grangetown and recently created a giant mural depicting former Sunderland AFC captain Raich Carter on the side of the Blue House pub in Hendon, said: “My previous work on such a large scale was on the side of the Shipwrights pub in North Hylton but this mural uses a lot more colour and uses my experience painting photo-realistic images like those of the butterflies on High Street East to good effect.

“The work has been fun – even working outside in December and January when I’ve generally been doing six hour days before my fingers froze up – but it’s been well worth it and I hope everyone likes it.

“Public response has been overwhelmingly in favour of the murals, with people from all walks of life telling me how much they like the designs and paintings.”

The work has been fun even working outside in December and January when I’ve generally been doing six hour days before my fingers froze up, but it’s been well worth it and I hope everyone likes it.

Frank Styles

The work has been completed over six weeks using 142 cans of different coloured spray paint.

Over time primary schools whose pupils use the underpass, behind Hipsburn Drive, will also become more closely involved, with regular litter picks alongside the council’s Responsive Local Services team.

Sunderland City Council’s West Area Committee has funded the improvements.

Chairman of the West Area Committee, Councillor Peter Gibson, said: “Local people told us that they didn’t like using the subway because it was dark and depressing, so we decided to do something about it.

Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive' local artist Frank Styles

Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive' local artist Frank Styles

“An important part of all area committees is the ‘People’ and ‘Place’ boards, which listen to people’s concerns about life in their community and their suggestions on how it could be improved.

“We can then provide the funding and support to make these improvements possible with environmental projects such as these.”

Chairman of the West Area Committee People Board Councillor Rebecca Atkinson added: “What has been created looks fantastic, and we hope that everyone likes the transformation and helps us to protect it for everyone to enjoy.”

Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive by local artist Frank Styles

Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive by local artist Frank Styles

Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive by local artist Frank Styles

Newly decorated subway at Barnes Subway, Hisburn Drive by local artist Frank Styles