We’ve recently been working on a very enjoyable project since before Christmas, and it’s just about ready to go to print. I’ve particularly really enjoyed researching and illustrating the special border.

Iron and steel has always been an important industry in the area. Driving to Redcar for the first time took us next to the very heartland of the steelworks, and we saw some pretty amazing views, as this next image shows perfectly.

We were so inspired – this fantastic industrial landscape just had to be incorporated in the mural! After sketching out a number of ideas we came up with the concept of illustrating – the skyline of the industrial landscape.  This meant drawing out the dramatic silhouette of the horizon – but in negative form, to be then cut out of a stainless steel frame.  This means that the steel frame represents the sky above Redcar!

After our first meeting at the new hospital in Redcar we decided to have a look around the region – as we always do with new projects. It’s an invaluable aid to inspiration. First we visited the old, now boarded up, Stead Hospital, and the cemetery nearby to search out gravestones of the original Stead family. I’m not a big one for cemeteries normally, but….  Then on to the seaside! It was here we discovered the stunning coastline backed with dunes – and Coatham Marsh, a 134 acre wetland nature reserve.

Thanks to the web we were able to make contact with Steve Ashton, People and Wildlife Manager for the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust. Working in collaboration with him we were able to discover much more about the plants, animals and birdlife that inhabit the marsh. I have always been besotted with wildlife in general, and illustrating the border for the bottom of the mural in a way that will engage with children, has been a total joy to work on. I chose to illustrate it in a layered silhouette style; to amalgamate with, but also stand out from, the history information on the mural.

We have also created a ‘Colour Me In’ nature spotting leaflet that works in conjunction with the marsh illustration on the mural. This can be given out by hospital reception staff to keep children amused while visiting the hospital.

Can’t wait to see the finished mural all in place at the hospital with its specially cut out steel frame. We have already had some very good feedback from everyone we have worked with: from Malcolm Brydon, co-ordinator for the project, The League of Friends who have part funded the work, and Steve Ashton from the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust who emailed specially to tell us – ‘Very impressed with what you have done so far.’

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