Sophie’s streetscene mural is a legacy of flood scheme

Sohie Mitchell with her mural and artist Mike Holcroft.
Sohie Mitchell with her mural and artist Mike Holcroft.

A young artist’s mural has brightened up a rebuilt culvert as one of the final stages of the Todmorden flood alleviation scheme.

Artwork by Sophie Mitchell, a former student at Todmorden High School, was selected by the Environment Agency (EA) and, after being transformed into a large mural by Water Street Gallery’s Mike Holcroft, has been erected above the rebuilt market hall culvert.

Alan Whittaker, EA communications manager, said the EA and its contractors Volker Stevin wanted to leave a legacy in the town of the community’s engagement with the flood defence work.

He and colleague Will Benedikz approached Todmorden High School’s art department for their help with the idea.

After viewing several students’ work, they decided to pick Sophie’s design and set about transforming it into a mural.

Alan said: “Everybody involved in the project has done a great job. I hope that the town can take some pride in it because it deserves that.”

Mark Tupman, EA project manager, said the location above the culvert was chosen because it is a visible site in the centre of the town.

“We are interested in leaving a legacy that displays the community engagement with the work,” he said.

“It’s going to be visible by a number of visitors to the town, and residents alike, on a regular basis because it’s in an area of high footfall.”

Sophie, 19, came up with the design as part of her A-level project.

She was given the brief of doorways and spent time looking at the work of Yorkshire based artist Clare Caulfield.

“I was shocked when they chose my artwork,” she said.

“I really enjoyed doing it.

“It’s encouraged me to carry on now that other people appreciate my art.”

She was awarded an A grade for the project.

Mike said: “It has been a privilege to work on such a positive, upbeat interpretation of Todmorden and the North of England.

“For too long the legacy of ‘Lowryism’, for all its strengths, has held back a broader creative take on modern Northern life.

“Maybe this will help to blow away the nostalgia for smoking chimneys and drudgery and engender new talent.

“Sophie’s creative use overlaying collage with vibrant colour, threading text and phrases through the panels is heartfelt and thought-provoking.”