We’ve all seen them – ugly, often grubby boxes on the pavement or roadside that contain “stuff” … telephone “stuff”, traffic signalling “stuff” etc. etc. They get rusty, they get negelected they get vandalised … now assuming that we do need to have these items of “street furniture” do they all need to be so drab ?
Could things be different ?
Of course they could.
We appreciate that these boxes may nominally be “owned” by different entities, but they all form part of the public realm which is ultimately owned by the people and perhaps the people should have an input on how they look.
We have always admired the painted traffic signal boxes in Brisbane which have not only brightened up the streets and helped create greater community identity and pride but have also resulted in actual cost savings (through reduced graffiti cleaning – see detailed report here). If you want a quick overview, have a look at this youtube video that shows the background to the project.
Anyway, here are a couple that caught our eye on visits to Brisbane.
On visiting Inverurie town centre last weekend we were delighted to see that a traffic signal box here has been painted up with a suitably “rural Aberdeenshire” theme! It’s a real cracker too.
Some research turned up an article in The Inverurie Herald of 23rd June 2011 “Street art mooves to town” which gives the story of how this one came to be. In summary, it is the work of local artist Mike Jenkins and was commissioned by Ron Reid (who manages the town farmer’s market) after he had seen painted street furniture in Nova Scotia.
We really like this new feature of Inverurie and we would like to think that it might be something that happens in other communities in the North East and will keep our fingers crossed that we see more popping up elsewhere in Aberdeenshire.
Ideally, we would like to see a scheme like Brisbane’s art force which grows from the grass roots up and features artworks that the community themselves choose to create to tell their story. The true success of such a scheme is not merely the production of the artwork to decorate the box but the community spirit that it fosters.
Hopefully a scheme in Aberdeenshire might then inspire the city of Aberdeen to embark upon a similar project and help replace grubby grey or green boxes with vibrant pieces of street art.
If you like the idea, why not contact your councillors?