A new mural which celebrates Sunderland’s rich industrial past and ongoing cultural revival has been unveiled at one of the city’s Metro stations.
The colourful and thought-provoking piece of artwork, which was created with the input of local community groups, has gone on display at Millfield Metro station near the south bank of the River Wear.
The project was commissioned by Sunderland Culture on behalf of the Metro operator, Nexus, as part of its Metro Community Takeover, marking the network’s 40th anniversary. Funding was provided by Arts Council England.
Artist Chad McCail worked closely with Sunderland Culture to engage two community groups in and around the Millfield area to explore their experiences of living and working in Sunderland and their hopes for its future.
He said: “The theme of the mural is community and the value of relationships. It takes the form of a storyboard which winds across the wall telling a story in pictures.
“While I was working in Sunderland it became apparent how much nostalgia there is for the industrial past and an understanding that there was then a more cohesive community life. In the story, long dead miners and shipyard workers rise from their graves. They are shocked by what has become of their city and they inspire the residents to begin to create a better world.”
Rebecca Ball, CEO, Sunderland Culture, said: “Sunderland Culture has thoroughly enjoyed working in partnership with Nexus, local community groups and artist Chad McCall on the project to create this large-scale mural at Millfield Metro Station.
“It was important to us that the local community was genuinely involved in the project, and Chad’s engagement with Pallion Action Group and Young Asian Voices (YAV) provided him with real insights into the city. He spent a good deal of time exploring the life experiences of local people and talking to them about the city’s past and their hopes for its future.
“The beautiful mural Chad has produced has a real message around community, relationships and looking forward– and I’m sure it will be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “This amazing mural really brings a splash of colour to Millfield Metro station, while conveying some important messages about Sunderland’s industrial past and exciting future.
“The artist Chad McCail has done a brilliant job with the finished piece, and what’s even more exciting is that local community groups in the area have had the chance to provide their input.
“The mural will be seen by scores of Metro customers and we really hope that they like it and take a moment to have a look as they pass through.
“Our Art on Transport scheme has brought many varied commissions to the Metro network. This display at Millfield is the final part of our big Metro Takeover, which has seen a range of different art and performing arts projects held across the system to helps us mark Metro’s 40th anniversary year.”
McCail conducted workshops – which included puppet making and theatre – with Young Asian Voices (YAV) and Pallion Action Group to get their input and ideas before he set about the task of painting the giant mural.
The finished piece explores a collective experience of Sunderland life and hopes for the future. It touches on current concerns such as the cost of living crisis while searching for a different, kinder and more sustainable way of life