For those living, working and wandering around the Baltic Triangle today, you may have seen the enormous mural being created on the back wall of the Skate Park. This is a mural to advertise a forthcoming Netflix documentary called ‘Our Planet’ and presented by none other than Sir David Attenborough.
Naturally, the surprise element of the works being carried out has caused a little confusion and bit of consternation; especially on the Twitter-sphere! However, the real story has none of the sinister undertones that many have been posting about online. Actually, there has been genuine community engagement with organisers going to great lengths to ensure that all stakeholders were consulted and rewarded for their participation.
Ryan Cullen who works in the Baltic Triangle and works with We make Places CIC has helped facilitate this project and is actually a Baltic Triangle resident. We Make Places works with socially isolated and disenfranchised people and helps them learn trades and skills – making furniture for people in poverty. Ryan worked with local skater Russ (not Russ Gannon) from the Skate Park and has helped facilitate a donation to ensure that there are now funds to complete some much needed renovations. Ryan also liaised with the Royal Standard and got local artists involved as well as some skate boarders to help with the painting of the mural. In addition (and being mindful of the sentiments at play in the documentary) recycled paint from ReciproCity Wirral was used for the artwork.
The project is not about painting an advertisement and disappearing over the horizon. Ryan has also invited Back on Track to visit the Skate Park tomorrow and get involved with painting the outside of the perimeter fence. Back on Track is an organisation that supports young people who have had issues with truancy. Again, there has been a donation made to this organisation and everyone has been paid for their time. There has been a litter pick in the area and there will also be some pallet artwork work done on the Baltic Green and furniture built and an interactive art piece positioned on Jamaica Street during the Threshold Festival. Again, all artists and organisations will be paid for their work.
Street art in the Baltic Triangle is one of the most important and special things about the area and there are (quite naturally) a lot of strong opinions on what should go up, where and for what cost. The principle of painting over decades of artwork is a powerful point and one to be respected. Opinions about this mural will be no split but we only thought it fair to get their side of the story. With that, we will give the last word to Ryan:
“We have tried to engage with all parts of the community to get this project together. We have been as inclusive as possible and have used this as an opportunity to give support to local charities and organisations doing great work in the city as well as supporting the great work being done in the Skate Park and their continuing efforts to make the space as safe and as user friendly as possible.”