The Orchard project was designed to increase patient engagement in a mental health unit through workshops and murals.
The Orchard is a purpose built mental health unit in London designed specifically for women only who require enhanced levels of treatment within a medium secure setting. To increase the level of active engagement and improve the general environment, Signal Project was commissioned to hold creative workshops with the patients to develop design ideas for two murals that spanned the walls in the central communal atrium and secure gardens outside.
Signal artists quickly developed an engaging and excellent working relationship with the atrium team and patients. They were sensitive to the women’s differing needs and individual pace, and respected everyone’s contribution to the work. Working within strict institutional health & safety and security parameters, Signal and The Orchard staff designed the project to make significant departures from standard processes in the unit, benefiting the women’s rehabilitation.
The artists held open workshops in the atrium at time when the women were accessing the shop, boutique and library that exposed the women to the concept of the mural in a non-threatening way. Through a series of hands-on discussion and creative sessions, the idea for the mural took shape. The women and staff chose design ideas and colours and this was developed into the final design.
The completed mural brings a strong yet tranquil focal point to the atrium, which before was a rather sterile area. The mural allows service users to have a potential feeling of hope of a world outside that can be seen and felt. The visual link between the two murals, one inside and one outside, gives the feeling that the outside has been brought into the building, which has a powerful positive impact on the staff and patients alike.
The towering 12 meter height of the atrium mural forces the eye upward to the sky beyond the glass ceiling. This is a visual reminder that the area is light and airy; there is space, and an optimistic and open view of the world outside. A restrained colour palette and sense of space is key to creating a sense of serenity. The success of the project and resulting murals has been a catalyst for further ideas and work to take place.
“It was great to feel included and to be part of something that I could personally own. The end result is brilliant. I am so proud of the work we did and I can see that some of my ideas are in the end product. When we leave, other people will be able to see what we did and that really makes me happy and proud. The mural has given the Orchard a new face, it’s more homely and welcoming.”
“Being part of the group was exciting as I had never done that sort of a thing before. At first I was not sure how it would turn out, but the more we did the more it looked good. It’s as if it’s coming out of the wall.”
“This project has totally transformed the Orchard… [it] has been a really hopeful project for all involved. I can see the benefits to the women who find it easier to relax and engage in an environment which can sometimes feel very restrictive. It’s also more pleasant for visitors coming into the unit and as staff we feel a sense of pride in our enhanced surroundings.”
Becky Lodge, AHP Lead West London Forensic SDU, Head of Occupational Therapy & Rehabilitation Service, Women’s Directorate, The Orchard, St Bernard’s Hospital
The Stanwell Project was a successful, inclusive art project that encompassed a whole community through various tailored creative workshops and small stand-alone projects, to culminate in a public mural & documentary that captured the history and essence of the area.
As part of the regeneration of a large part of Stanwell in Surrey, Signal was approached by national regeneration company A2Dominion in 2008 to design, manage and deliver an intergenerational art project in an area where there was a need to bring a community together. We decided that historical story telling was the best method of encouraging locals to bond and appreciate the history of the area.
With a core team of nine professional creatives and youth workers, Signal devised a flexible wide-ranging project that included 10 influential community groups to draw out the stories of Stanwell. We used various creative tools to engage the residents including customising remote control cars, intergenerational story telling, street art workshops, mobile phone/digital film making, painting sessions and creating wooden
cut-out animals. We also held various social events for the wider community to get involved at different stages of the project. See the full mural design here.
Designed as a positive legacy for the community as it went through the uncomfortable process of change, the main outcomes of the project were:
a better relationship between the developer and the community
a 60 metre mural on hoardings
a 40 minute documentary about the project and local residents
a potentially award-winning and press-worthy story for A2Dominion
Over 900 of the 2,500 residents of Stanwell took part in the project in some way, making it one of the largest of its kind in the country. As the Signal team were only to be in a Stanwell a relatively short time, we also sought to engage the relevant local agencies to kick-start more sustainable long-term initiatives in the area. As a result over £250,000 has since been allocated to the area, across all age groups.
“I write to say a huge thank you to you and your team for your help in delivering a successful project in Stanwell; we could not have done it without you. Since we started working in Stanwell the area has attracted a great deal of interest from other organisations and agencies, which has triggered a funding programme in excess of £250,000. I have been told that it was the work the Signal Project team did in the community that highlighted the area’s need and many of the issues. I am delighted to report the funding has been directed across all age groups, which is testament to the intergenerational approach of the project.
“The DVD has been much praised and talked about … and captured the soul of Stanwell residents. Viewers unfamiliar with Stanwell have commented on the sense of community that comes across … and the way that Stanwell is a good example of a sustainable community that evolves to accept the changes imposed upon it. We look forward to working with you in the future.” Mandie Wilde, Project Coordinator Stanwell New Start, A2Dominion Group
“The involvement of Signal in this project has been extremely well received by the community with good positive feed back from the residents of Stanwell and from people living in the surrounding area…The mural provokes comment and stimulates interest …and this will help Stanwell’s history… to be remembered, recorded and passed through the generations.” Cllr. Caroline Spencer, Mayor of Stanwell
“The idea of involving the whole Stanwell community was wonderful… The project involved all the 500 pupils at the school… I cannot fault the professional approach that the team had towards everyone, from the youngest to the oldest participant. The work is admired by all the residents, and people from the borough and further afield have been to look at the work.” Carol Davies, former Head Administrator Town Farm Primary School
A prominent public mural that has transformed a local eyesore into a welcoming landmark that has come to define the area and its history.
Kilburn is a northern London city ward thriving with life. Steeped in Irish ancestry the present day community reflects London’s vast multiculturalism. We came to appreciate the area and wanted to design a mural that would reflect Kilburn and its history. The Kilburn Tube Mural is located on a busy road serving as an artery into London from The North and outside the heavily used Kilburn Tube Station.
The 300m2 and 8m high mural spans four walls over property belonging to London Underground and two local authorities, managed by Kilburn Town Centre Partnership. Signal managed the project so that all council concerns were addressed.
Keenly aware of the issues around the public perception of graffiti, we deliberately downplayed this element by opting for an illustrative style, avoiding lettering and keeping to a uniform colour palette. We included historical content to offer the onlooker something beyond the obvious such as performers from Kilburn’s 1930s mouse circus, and characters from resident George Orwell’s Animal Farm. See the full design here.
We involved local graffiti artists by running workshops at local schools and youth clubs and consulting key community groups and historians before beginning the final design.
During the painting of the mural, we displayed information about the design and its historical and community relevance so that passers by had a better understanding of the project. This was a great cohesive tool in the community as many locals learned things about an area they had lived in their entire life.
The Kilburn Tube Mural was painted by renowned graffiti artists (Snug, Dane, Bleach, Busk and Tizer) with the assistance of a young local apprentice, involving many of the community in the consultation process. This was key to its success in being welcomed by locals and regular passers-by.
Signal secured match funding from the Arts Council England and Camden Streetscape to deliver the Kilburn Tube project – a public mural that was groundbreaking in its scale and prominence.
The biggest sign of the success of this project is that the mural has not been vandalised once since its completion in 2004, despite a footfall of millions past it every week.
This project was conceived, managed and delivered by Signal Project in 2004 and remains the largest permanent public graffiti art mural ever commissioned in the UK.
“On behalf of the Kilburn Partnership, I would like to thank you for your hard work developing and delivering the mural project at Kilburn Tube station over the last year. Local feedback on the design quality of the mural has been extremely positive – in fact (and I understand this is quite unusual for a public art project!) we haven’t received a single complaint or criticism.”
Caroline Bourne, Kilburn Town Centre Manager, March 2005
Kilburn Murals “…if we had to spend a few coins on any of London’s murals it would be these, created in 2004 by Signal Project as the largest commissioned work of graffiti in the UK… A splendid attention to detail, with many subtle references to local themes.”
Rating: 10/10 The best we’ve seen.” TimeOut London, Issue 1872, July 2006, Top Ten London Murals:
The Tongham Underpass Mural was a project that allowed students to gain GCSE level accreditation in addition to their existing school curriculum. This was delivered as part of a public art project.
For the first time in UK, artists at Signal collaborated with curriculum development consultants Beyond Knowledge to develop accreditation through the medium of Street Art. Signal and Beyond Knowledge created education innovation by combining a professional public art project with the school curriculum to enable students from two secondary schools to gain GCSE equivalent accreditation.
The result: a community-driven street art project in a pedestrian subway that helped 16 participants achieve a BTEC Level 2 in Visual Arts in just 10 weeks with a 100% pass rate! And the subway, used by pupils from both schools, is now a graffiti-free space with a vastly improved look and feel.
Our tailored BTEC project is now used as an attractive and practical way for students to achieve accreditation through the medium of street art.
Artists from Signal and Beyond Knowledge staff supervised and taught 16 talented year 10 and 11 art students from two schools. The material satisfied Level 2 qualification requirements, and covered a range of street art techniques, application and history, plus general art and design.
The Level 2 BTEC was delivered over 40 contact hours, after school and during the half-term break.
The learning activities included:
producing written materials
a 60m public mural, delivered as a group project
While the BTEC could be delivered on its own without a mural project attached, the experience for the participating students was greatly enhanced by providing creative input to a real street art project within their community.
With certain adjustments to the delivery plan, this approach is suited to:
young people 14-19 of all levels
students in pupil referral units
students at risk of being excluded
If within a pupil referral unit, it is recommended the course be delivered over an academic year. Media and ICT components can also be added.
Designed and managed by Signal, this project forged a successful partnership between Beyond Knowledge, Guildford Borough and Surrey County Councils, Surrey Youth Development Service, and Ash Manor and Connaught Secondary Schools.
“The Signal team were excellent to work with. The students were so motivated with the project it was fantastic to see! Working on such a large scale has taught the students not only about this type of artwork, but about their own strengths and capabilities. It has been a great experience for all involved.” Clare Maddision, Head of Art, Ash Manor
“I have now worked with Signal Project on four separate murals… In my experience, the artists from Signal Project have been fantastic at engaging the young people in the whole process of creating these stunning pieces of public art… I would rate Signal Project as one of the best and most professional organisations offering this service.” Gareth Palmer, Youth Development Worker (Arts), Surrey Youth Service
“Thank you for such an awesome experience! I would love to do it again!” Kira, participating student
“I have learnt lots about ‘Street Art’. I gained a lot by seeing this type of art through different eyes. It was great to work with different people, knowing we would all produce one large mural at the end.” Hannah, participating student
The Samuel Lewis Estate ball park mural was designed through workshops and drop-in sessions with around 20 young people from the estate, aged between 5 and 16.
A mural was required within the games area on a well-kept and respected residential housing estate in South East London. To ensure that the final piece reflected the interests of the young people that use the area, workshops with professional graffiti artists were held to encourage the young people to work creatively with ideas that would form the foundation of the mural design.
The ideas generated in the workshops were developed into a coherent sketch that complemented the site and other existing mural work.
Signal used a layering process to develop the mural; the wall was filled and primed, then a bold sequence of base colours applied. The young people were encouraged to paint ‘freestyle’ on the base colours with a complimentary paint palette. The freestyle graffiti was then used as a textured backdrop to the main mural design.
The design was outlined and participants then helped work on the final mural. The work was professionally finished leaving elements of the freestyle graffiti showing through.
“It was a delight to work with the artists of Signal project. They had a great rapport with the young people and brought in lots of material to engage them in. The artists combined high quality professionalism while being patient and open with the young people and were able to bring out lovely creative results with them.
Signal had a thorough knowledge of all things technical and I rest assured that the final result will be long lasting and give immense pleasure to both residents and visitors alike. I look forward to working with Signal Project again and highly recommend their work and approach.” Sarayu Shah, Community Projects Officer, Groundwork London
Through workshops, small and large public murals, and an unprecedented intergenerational regeneration scheme, Signal has contributed to delivering tangible local authority outcomes, including substantial funding uplift, across a whole county.
Signal has built up a broad portfolio of over 26 projects delivered across Surrey County Council since 2004 working with diverse groups across the community. The projects include numerous one-off graffiti workshops at youth clubs, large public murals and longer term activities that gain participants GCSE equivalent qualifications.
“I am writing to say how wonderful it is to work with Signal Project Limited. The work that you carried out with the council on the Sunbury Cross project as part of the Cultural Pathfinder was excellent. The Council received national recognition for this work and it also helped support young people. I do know that one or two people went on to college to study Graphic Design. The project attracted nearly £500,000 in external funds and has certainly improved this area.
I must also say how wonderful the project in Stanwell has been. It has brought communities together and the art work is outstanding. Spelthorne Borough Council looks forward to working with you in the future.” Liz Borthwick, Assistant Chief Executive Spelthorne Borough Council
Commissioned through various council departments, our work is designed to integrate and meet the Local Area Agreement objectives of multiple agencies working in partnership across the borough.
As a result, our larger projects have been instrumental in securing investment for the area significantly above the Council’s initial outlay. Our work has proved particularly relevant in these areas: Children and Young People, Safer and Stronger Communities, and Housing, Infrastructure and Environment.
We have worked with and/or been funded by:
Multi Agency Partnerships
Highway and Street Maintenance
Fear of Crime Initiatives
Initiatives to Engage Disaffected and Vulnerable Young People
Local Regeneration Schemes
Secondary Education Accreditation
Local Education Authority Initiatives
Youth Development Services
Environmental Planning Services
Arts and Cultural Events
Youth Justice Services
Engagement Initiatives for People with Learning Difficulties
Signal’s working relationship across Surrey has continued to improve and develop over the years, with projects becoming more ambitious and more expansive. The Stanwell Project involved 900 members of the local community, and the Tongham Subway Mural was an opportunity for 16 young people to fast track through a BTEC Visual Arts equivalent to one GCSE, with a 100% pass rate!
“Since we started working in Stanwell the area has attracted a great deal of interest from other organisations and agencies, which has triggered a funding programme in excess of £250,000. …it was the work the Signal Project team did in the community that highlighted the area’s need and many of the issues. I am delighted to report the funding has been directed across all age groups, which is testament to the intergenerational approach of the project.” Mandie Wilde, Project Coordinator A2Dominion Group
“I have worked with Signal Project on four separate murals… the artists from Signal Project have been fantastic at engaging the young people in the whole process… The young people come away feeling excited about the new skills they have learnt.” Gareth Palmer, Youth Development Worker (Arts) Surrey Youth Service