These children would probably admit they’re a little too young to have heard of some of the famous people whose faces they have so painstakingly reproduced with love and care…
But that doesn’t matter because the delighted expressions on their own faces reveal their immense pride at having their designs used to create a unique town centre mural dedicated to celebrating the lives of Leigh’s most iconic figures from history and popular culture.
Local heroes such as Mr Rugby Leigh, Tommy Sale… singer songwriter Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks fame… and the music legend Georgie Fame are just some of the famous names featured in the artwork produced over the past few months by the pupils of Sacred Heart RC and Leigh St Mary’s Primary Schools who have been taking part in workshops organised by Leigh Neighbours.
The British Paralympic swimmer Heather Frederiksen MBE and the phycologist, Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker – famed for her ground breaking research on edible seaweed – are also featured in the children’s artwork which Martyn Lucas, the Lead Artist on the project, has used to create a series of eye-catching metal plaques.
“The car park wall on Vicarage Square by the ‘little’ Asda effectively acts as a blank brick canvas,” explains Martyn. “We’re installing the plaques here to create a Wall of Fame, transforming an ordinary wall into an extra-ordinary art installation which we hope will encourage people to feel pride in their local area and its heritage.”
Inspired by archive photographs, the children were also given the opportunity to learn about each of the famous figures, and to find out about their contributions to music, literature, science, sport, entertainment and public service.
Other historic figures from Leigh and the surrounding areas recognised in the mural include The Lancashire Caruso, Thomas Burke; comedian, Ken Platt; philanthropist, Arthur Turtle; and Alfred Wilkinson, recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.
Martyn says: “It’s great to be involved once again with Leigh Neighbours and working with local people to make improvements to the area through art in public spaces. Art can inform and inspire and I think this latest project does just that. Our thanks go to the children who created the wonderful drawings for the designs and also to Leigh Local Studies Archives for their support as well.”
Susan Gredecki, Chair of Leigh Neighbours, adds: “Not only is this project a fantastic opportunity to recognise those people who have made a contribution to our town, it also reminds us to give a shout-out for all the unsung heroes who devote their lives to making a positive difference in our community today.”
The planned unveiling on 1st April was postponed and will be rescheduled for later this year. Watch out on our social media pages for updates! Meanwhile, you can see examples of some of the artwork in more detail below…