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Ghost Signs are go!

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 12 Dec 2022

The people of Bedford will soon be able to enjoy a new art project by Bedford Creative Arts (BCA). Four murals in the style of “Ghost Signs” will be popping up around the town and all will depict historic and technical developments from Bedford’s past.  
Ghost Signs are old hand-painted advertising signs that were painted onto a building and tended to stay for an extended period of time. Some Ghost Signs are still visible on buildings today that were originally painted between the 1890s and 1960s. The BCA Ghost Signs, originating from the art deco style, will have a modern-day artistic twist with a digital element. Each sign will have a digital element so those viewing the artwork can find out more about the piece. We also want to encourage the public to look out for the signs and then use #GhostSignsBedford on social media to share their experiences.  
Elaine Midgley, Director of BCA said: “Bedford has a rich history of technological and engineering innovation and yet little of it is visibly celebrated in the town. Our Airship Dreams project was the tip of the iceberg for us investigating some of these stories through art. We wanted to showcase this pioneering past and inspire a new generation of innovators to be both proud and intrigued by Bedford’s past, perhaps wondering what role they may take in its future.”   
One Ghost Sign is already complete and is located on the wall at King’s Oak Primary School. The Year 5 students joined artist Emmylou Shine to create a mural exploring The Story of Flight. The students were learning about the history of flight as part of the school curriculum and were lucky enough to use art to explore that theme further.  
Rob Morley-Smith, Headteacher at King’s Oak Primary said: “It has been a real pleasure to see Emmylou interacting with the children. It really inspired them to learn and to get involved in the mural. They loved the experience of working with an artist and are really proud of the final piece.”  
Emmylou Shine, artist said: “This has been such a fun project to work on and I'm really pleased with the outcome. The children really got into it and asked lots of interesting questions. They should be very proud of their work.”  
The next Ghost Sign will be under way at 88 High Street from Tuesday 6 December. This second piece will be by Keith Hopewell and it will look at the future of flight! The Bedford airships were cutting edge for their time, but what is coming next? This is what Keith will explore. Keith is a multi-disciplinary artist focused on the utilisation of public space and an explicit understanding of how art functions in the environment, exploring the most readily available surfaces.  
The project has been funded by Bedford Borough Council via the Town Centre Priority Fund and is supported by Bedford BID. The educational strand has been funded by The Town Centre Priority Fund, The Culture Challenge and Bedford College.  
Councillor Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres and Planning, said: “This is an exciting series of public pieces, which I would encourage people to come in and see when work begins and concludes. The Town Centre Priority Fund was created to support precisely this sort of work, helping to support a vibrant, accessible, green and diverse town centre and the Ghost Signs project being delivered by Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) will certainly help achieve that. These works will help shine a spotlight on the history of Bedford Borough and I can’t wait to see the Ghost Signs go up in the town centre.”  
Christina Rowe, Director of Operations at BedfordBID said: “The BedfordBID is delighted to offer support to help enhance the Ghost Signs project to make it both a physical trail and something that can 'go viral' or be experienced ‘virtually’.  This is a further testament to the intention to significantly help attract people into Bedford town centre to engage with the project and experience it for themselves. We hope you enjoy.”  
There will be two further Ghost Signs one by Amy Wormald. Amy is known for rural and urban landscapes in bold colours and has a keen interest in Bedford’s airship history and the Cardington Sheds. And the final piece will be by Sarah Hodgkins, who creates meaningful murals that connect with and enhance the physical space they occupy.    
All of these wonderful pieces will be coming to a wall near you soon! So, look out for them and please get involved, photograph them and share on social media using #GhostSignsBedford.  

Topics: Bedford Creative Arts

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