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Thursday 20 August 2015

Solent lecturer redesigns Wrexham

Wrexham’s cultural, industrial and agricultural past is being brought to life in a stunning new artwork produced by renowned illustrator and Southampton Solent University lecturer, Jonny Hannah.

Contemporary art venue Oriel Wrecsam commissioned the hand lettering and signage expert to produce a unique artwork celebrating the region’s heritage to wrap around the exterior of Siop//Shop – the organisation’s semi-permanent home on Chester Street.

Wrexham’s Arts Manager, Steffan Jones-Hughes, had been keen to commission Jonny –who was part of Oriel Wrecsam’s A Childs Christmas in Wales exhibition in 2014 – for a while… and this provided the perfect opportunity.

“Jonny is one of the UK’s leading image makers and we knew he’d be the perfect person to develop a focal point for Creative Wrexham. He has looked at the history of Wrexham and created a design which reflects local folklore, industrial heritage and social history of the town and county. The bilingual Welsh/English lettering has been very well received and we are delighted with the results.”

Jonny Hannah’s hand-painted shop front

As well as creating a set of vinyl window designs, Jonny hand-painted the shop’s front and signage – much to the fascination of passers-by, who stopped to watch the artist use traditional skills and methods to such great effect.

“It’s always a pleasure to do something that is a bit of a backlash to the homogenised high street,” says Jonny. “Spending a whole day signwriting in the sun as people walked past, clearly fascinated by someone doing it the ‘old fashioned’ way, has been an absolute pleasure.”

Jonny, whose clients include The Sunday Telegraph, The New York Times and The St Kilda Courier, will have more work on display and for sale inside the shop, where he is‘printmaker in focus’ until September.

This unusual commission marks the start of a new way of working for Oriel Wrecsam, which will see Wrexham town centre become Oriel Wrecsam’s temporary gallery before ultimately leading to the opening of a new cultural hub.

“We are in the process of developing an arts and cultural space in the town with the support of the Arts Council of Wales, and with Welsh Government funding through the Vibrant and Viable Places programme,” says Steffan.