Stevenage Museum workshop celebrates town’s pioneering underpass artwork
Students from Stevenage have taken part in a workshop that celebrates the underpass sculpture in the town.
Stevenage Museum ran the week-long workshop in collaboration with St Christopher School in Letchworth. The workshop is the beginning of a project that marks 50 years since the installation of Bill Mitchell’s sculpture ‘Scenes from Contemporary Life’ in the underpass leading to Town Centre Gardens. The work was given listed status by Historic England in 2022.
A group of ten students aged 14-18 years-old, who live or attend school in Stevenage, took part in the free course, supported by staff from St Christopher School.
Work began by carrying out first-hand research, including a visit to Bill Mitchell’s concrete relief sculpture and a chance to see the original drawings by Mitchell, which are now held at Stevenage Museum. Students also took photographs and sketched contemporary aspects of life in the town now.
Students then went to Letchworth (the world’s first Garden City, itself an inspiration to the planners of the post-war New Towns), where they worked at St Christopher School’s art and design departments. Specialist art teacher, Lizzy Anstice Brown, helped the students translate their ideas into a series of relief panels in clay. The imagery was developed using a mix of drawing, carving, sculpting, and computer aided design using the school’s laser cutter. The fired and glazed tiles will be displayed at Stevenage Museum as part of the Bill Mitchell exhibition opening later this year.
Councillor Loraine Rossati, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Leisure, said:
“Stevenage led the way in using art in public spaces when it was built, with a huge variety of creative artworks incorporated into the fabric of the town.
“We hope that the workshop and exhibition will allow a new generation to appreciate just how pioneering our town was at marrying art, architecture, and technology to enhance peoples’ everyday lives".
The exhibition opens on 21 October. Keep an eye on Stevenage Museum’s social media for more information.