Isle of Wight Council

07 Sep 2022

Eye-catching mural celebrates Newport

Shoppers are sitting pretty in Newport town centre.

Three benches became the unlikely blank canvas for a new mural that celebrates Newport's place at the heart of the Isle of Wight UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Local artist, Alice Malia, was commissioned to create a vibrant piece of art that visually unites a busy stretch of the High Street. 

Working by torchlight, Alice and her team of painters completed the colourful depiction of a flock of swifts over two evenings.

The design incorporates colours inspired by the sky as well as the three rivers that flow through Newport. There is also a nod to this weekend's Tour of Britain cycle race in the lines and shapes that sweep across the seats.

Alice trained in London in set design for theatre and has worked internationally, painting large scale murals and designing stage sets.

Talking about her latest artwork, she said: "I designed a graphic and colourful background based on the colours of rivers and sky, with a strong sense of direction, that pulls your eye down the street and links the three benches.

"The artwork features a flock of swifts; they are following an abstract pattern of dots made with fingerprints, which represent a swarm of insects the birds are feeding on.

"Swifts are amazing birds that migrate from central Africa to the south of the UK every summer. They form fast moving feeding flocks in the sky called ‘screaming parties’.

"We have some ideal habitat for swifts in our local biosphere reserve, and ideal nesting and feeding habitat for them here in the Newport area.

"They come here specifically to feed off mosquitos and other flying insects living around the Medina and its tributaries all through Newport. Swifts only nest in human made structures and Newport has a wealth of old buildings that provide ideal habitat for them.

"Like many bird species, sadly swifts are in decline too. People can help them continue to migrate here by installing swift boxes, and property developers can even add swift bricks to new building projects.”

The project was led by Shaping Newport with funding from the government's Welcome Back Fund, the Newport High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) and Isle of Wight Council.

Shaping Newport is a partnership between Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council, the Isle of Wight Council and Newport Business Association.

Councillor Shirley Smart, chairman of Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council, said: "We were delighted to support the creation of this wonderful new mural in the heart of our community.

"It has certainly brought a splash of colour to the high street and will hopefully put a smile on many people's faces. A big thank you to the super-talented Alice Malia and her team for this striking art installation."

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Alice at work in Newport High Street
Alice at work in Newport High Street
Factfile
  • Local artist, Alice Malia, was commissioned to create a vibrant piece of art in Newport High Street.
  • The piece featuring a flock of swifts celebrates Newport's place at the heart of the Isle of Wight UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
 
Isle of Wight, UK