Town embraces its first free art attack
Buy this photo Hmm Bates with one of the works of art up for grabs
ART lovers had a free-for-all in the sunshine around the town as Swindon’s first Free Art Friday was launched over the weekend.
Free Art Friday – a global movement kicked off by street artist My Dog Sighs more than 10 years ago in Portsmouth – involves artists leaving work on corners around the town for members of the public to pick up for free.
On Friday, to coincide with the launch of the Smoke and Mirrors exhibition of street art at Jack Rabbit in Crombey Street, the first Swindon Free Art Friday was launched with a mega-drop of art contributed by around 55 different artists.
Around 22 pieces were up for grabs from Friday evening, with a total of around 250 pieces bagged, tagged and scattered around the town during Saturday.
The launch event was organised by local artist Sarah Harris, who was inspired to bring the movement to the town after seeing it work in Gloucester.
The 47-year-old from Stratton said: “It went really, really well. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Lots of people have been in touch saying that they found art and one man said that he had had a rubbish day at work and finding a piece made his day.
“Some people just came across it serendipitously while others had gone out to search for it, but everyone really seemed to enjoy it and it was great to see so many positive reactions.
“I had so much support from the Jack Rabbit with promotion and everything, and it was so great to meet some of the artists who had contributed there as well.
“All in all it was a very art-full weekend.”
From 7.30am to 8pm on Saturday Sarah and her team dropped the art in public spaces, including around 100 pieces in the town centre, in the Town Gardens and Queens Park as well as at Lydiard Park and Coate Water.
She said: “Where we could we tried to be a bit clever, so we stuck a postcard to the postbox and put a painting of a bird near the aviary in the Town Gardens.
“But there were so many pieces we couldn’t be clever with all of them.
“We put the art in the lifts in the Brunel Centre too.
“The most popular place was the Lion Statue in the Town Centre, we put a lot of it there.
“It didn’t hang around either. I would put pieces in places around Queens Park and Town Gardens and by the time I walked back it was already gone.
“That’s good, I wouldn’t have wanted it staying around for too long.”
Sarah plans to keep up the movement in Swindon, with several significantly smaller drops happening each Friday.
She said: “Now we know there is an interest for it we’ll be dropping two or three or four pieces in the town each week.
“I don’t think we’ll do another drop on this sort of scale. We might do a bigger one next summer but it will most likely generally be much smaller.
“Hopefully we’ll also be able to go and drop it at some places we weren’t able to get to this time around, like in Royal Wootton Bassett.”
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