sccA COMMUNITY ARTS PROJECT is set to transform an underpass into a gateway into nature.

In response to local people’s concerns about being uneasy walking through the subway under the Barnes Roundabout (behind Hisburn Drive), Sunderland City Council’s West Area Committee has funded a community arts project which has painted the walls and entrance with murals based on local flora and fauna.

Local artist Frank Styles was commissioned by the local Barnes ward councillors to carry out the work which will be completed next week.

Designs are based on the nature and local wildlife found around the area, especially Barnes Park, with moor hens, rabbits and even a deer featured in the mural.

Over time local primary schools whose pupils use the underpass, will also become more closely involved with regular litter picks alongside the City Council’s Responsive Local Services team.

Chair of the West Area Committee, Councillor Peter Gibson, said: “Local people told us that they didn’t like using the subway because it was dark and depressing, so we decided to do something about it.

“An important part of all area committees is the ‘People’ and ‘Place’ boards which listen to people’s concerns about life in their community, and their suggestions on how it could be improved.

“We can then provide the funding and support to make these improvements possible with environmental projects such as these.”

Chair of the West Area Committee People Board, Councillor Rebecca Atkinson added: “We came up with the idea of a mural and engaged local artist Frank Styles to work with the local community and come up with some design ideas.

“What has been created looks fantastic and we hope that everyone likes the transformation and helps us to protect it for everyone to enjoy.”

The work completed over six weeks used 142 cans of different coloured spray paint, and will be officially unveiled next Monday (25 Jan) at 11.30am.

Local artist Frank Styles will be joined by Chair of the West Area Committee, Councillor Peter Gibson,Barnes ward councillors, Cllr Rebecca Atkinson, Cllr Michael Essl and Cllr Ian Galbraith and children from Richard Avenue Primary School.

Frank Styles, who lives in nearby Grangetown said: “My previous work on such a large scale was on the side of the Shipwrights pub in North Hylton but this mural use a lot more colour, and uses my experience painting photo-realistic images like those of the butterflies on High Street East to good effect.

“The work has been fun even working outside in December and January when I’ve generally been doing six hour days before my fingers froze up, but it’s been well worth it and I hope everyone likes it.

“Public response has been overwhelmingly in favour of the murals, with people from all walks of life telling me how much they like the designs and paintings.”