Free Longbridge Art Service

Yesterday I joined forces with Hannah Hull to provide a special, for-one-day-only, free public art service for Longbridge as part of our commission for EC Arts.

We struck out down the Bristol Road and found a parade of shops that seem to have been passed by by all the regeneration efforts several hundred metres away and decided it would be nice to give them some attention.

We went into several of the shops introducing our art service and offering to provide creative services, be it drawing, painting, sculpture, performance or socially-engaged interventions.

After more or less discussion, some of the shopkeepers came to the conclusion that they were not in need of our services. We asked them to fill in an entry in our receipt book to certify that “no art is required today”.

For some, this was because they saw no need for any additional art in their life, or because they did not feel qualified to be able to make the decision themselves, instead asking us to return when other family members would be present.

For others, this was because they were more than capable of being self-sufficient in their art requirements. As soon as we introduced ourselves to the staff in the tattoo studio, one man immediately dashed out to a back room and returned with these paintings that he had done:

Next to him was sat a young woman sketching out a Jack-Nicholson-as-the-Joker portrait for what we think was going to be a calavera sugar skull.

We were quite envious of her pro pencil kit and putty rubber.

Of the 8 shops we visited, we ended up being commissioned for art services from 3 of them, and we had such an interesting conversation with a woman in a 4th that we were moved to make an uncommissioned artwork for her:

Next time you’re in a shop in Longbridge, have a think about the person serving you and wonder if they’re really a secret artist.

Of the official commissions we received, there was a strong signage theme. The man in the electronic cigarette shop is unhappy with his boring black front door and wants to paint it up so it’s more catchy.

We measured the door and then sketched out a few different approaches he might consider. Unfortunately we didn’t have much in the way of paint with us, but what we were able to do was set up a potential link with a student at Bournville College who’s interested in doing some graffiti-style work. We all thought this could be a nice pairing!

The man in the tool hire shop requested some designs for a mural on his outer side wall in a style not entirely dissimilar to the signs that could be seen around the shop counter. With added tool-based word play.

We suggested that this might be a bit sexist and sketched up a few variants on the theme that were more encompassing of other types of relationships and gender identity.

Perhaps our most successful commission was completed for Mandy in the convenience store. After a bit of a chat we discovered that she was quite frustrated at always having to direct customers towards the bread. Finding the milk often seems to be problematic too, but we really liked the signs she’d made for the fridges and so we decided to concentrate our efforts on bread wayfinding.

After checking how the sign could be hung from the ceiling, Hannah used her stencilling skills to put together a rather eye-catching three-tier bread sign.

We’re rather pleased with the results – here’s the sign being installed:

Hannah also took this rather nice portrait shot of our happy customer:

Bread, sign, portrait. Photo: Hannah Hull

All commissions were documented via report sheets detailing client details (name, age, ethnicity); description of art services provided; duration of art service; venue of art service and whether the art service made people happy.

We had a 100% success rate with that last one.

Art service recipients will also be entered into a free prize draw – more on that later…





These events are part of Longbridge Public Art Public (LPAP) conceived by EC Arts for and on behalf of Bournville College. For more information visit