Street art is helping to transform Withington, according to community activist Lizzy Jane
- Last November, We are Withington raised more than £5000 in 37 days to support a street art project
- Withington Walls aimed to cultivate Withington village and make the locals proud of the neighbourhood
- Lizzy Jane, chair of We are Withington group, tells NQ about the importance of art in Withington
Art is important for Withington – and locals understand that. More than £5,000 was raised by Withington residents who liked the idea of bringing art to the neighbourhood’s streets.
We are Withington group managed to commission Akse , a well-known UK street artist to create street murals in the community, who painted an image of art director and graphic designer Peter Saville on the Moon curry house on Wilmslow Road.
Apart from Akse’s work, you can find more street murals in the neighbourhood.
Lizzy Jane, chair of We Are Withington, explained the idea behind the Withington Walls project and its importance for the neighbourhood.
She is also an owner of A Curious Collection, shop on Wilmslow road which supports local artists by selling their work.
NQ: You are part of We Are Withington group. But who actually is the ‘we’ ?
Lizzy: It was initially started as a trading organisation – a lot of independent businesses working together.
We started to do Withington by Night events. We have been working together for about six months now.
The original purpose was to raise the profile of Withington and get more people to come to visit. We felt like there is a lack of good independent offer here.
NQ: What does the neighbourhood mean to you personally?
Lizzy: I’ve moved into Withington about three years ago and found it very welcoming. There is a lot of energy, a lot of people who feel passionate about the place and very proud to be from here even if they’re originally not from here. We’ve got people coming from different cities and countries.
If you’ve got energy and idea, you get very well supported to make it happen
NQ: Withington Walls is a project based on street art. It obviously received lots of support from locals. Were some people a bit sceptical about the idea in the beginning though?
Lizzy: Yes and I think that’s always going to be the case with art because it can be very divisive. We’ve had to change mindsets about street art – if you’ve got really quality piece of street art by respected artist, people are less likely to tag it.
People generally wanted High Street to be cleaner, tidier and more colourful. In that sense, we’re all after the same thing.
NQ: Are the locals happy with the result?
Lizzy: We’ve only completed three pieces so far and we’ve taken the last months to plan the project. We thought carefully about what we want to do as we don’t want to have random street art bits.
We want it to be a little cohesive scheme which will appeal to everyone. Hopefully, people like what we’ve done so far but there is more to come!
NQ: Tell me more about that. What are the future art plans in Withington?
Lizzy: We’re looking to commission for gateway pieces – this would be like in two or three months. We’ve recently had a Withington Walls logo and a palette of colours made by local artist Guy McKinley. We’re going to use them to make it look cohesive.
NQ: Why do you think art is important for Withington?
Lizzy: I’ve always felt Withington is a very creative and diverse place as is Manchester generally. There is already a lot of pride in the village but this will make people feel even more proud of Withington.