Amazing mural brightens up Torre – Community Matters

“Wow! What amazing artwork…really brightens up the place!” Just one of the many wonderful comments of Mark Bell’s Mural off East Street, in Torre…but it was quite a story to get here…

At the beginning of August, we were advised by Steven Chown the Funding Advisor for Torbay Communities that Safer Street Funding from Torbay Council was looking for applications from 3 key areas of the Bay. Our Community Builders from those areas soon jumped at the chance to gain some funding and the main ideas were around Art, and Murals in particular. A Mural in Temperance Street will be completed over the coming months…watch this space!

For Torre the focus was on the tunnel between East Street and Brunswick Court, which had been a problem area for many residents and locals – regularly used for antisocial behaviour with drug dealing and usage, this area had become a no-go zone for many including the residents who had no choice but to use it as it’s the only way to access their properties. One local resident had previously mentioned how lovely it would be to brighten up this space with a mural.

Community Builder Tracy got on the case and completed a funding application form which was sent via Margaret Forbes-Hamilton, Chair of Torre & Upton Community Partnership to Steven Chown for submission. After a few weeks, the funding was approved and then the hard work really started!

Margaret had a conversation online with Mark Bell the Artist’s wife Sarah, who confirmed that it might be something Mark is interested in and passed on details to Tracy.

Bearing in mind that we had been told a caveat of getting the funding was that any projects had to be completed by Sep 30th…ouch! This was going to be a rush job but needed professional expertise!

In the meantime, Tracy tracked down the owners of both buildings to ensure they would allow such a mural on their properties…explaining the concept behind the idea and with some understandable reservations, both property owners appreciated the focus on clearing and brightening up the alley and agreed to the go ahead.

L to R: Steven Chown – Torbay Communities Funding Advisor, Mark Bell – Artist, Tracy Pleece – Community Builder for Torre & Upton.

Thankfully once Tracy met with Mark, explained some of the ideas from the community and Margaret, and set up a Community Consultation at Platters Cafe, Mark came up with an example and showcased his work. Took the feedback on board about local key focus spots and off he went…

Mark committed to starting the work last week of September, which he duly did and progressed over the next week or two, with many wonderful comments from passer’s-by as per his feedback below:

“The concept was to paint a trompe l’oeil as if inside a building looking out of the windows.

“The arched windows were based on both the arches of Lauriston Hall Manor and Torre School – which are both local to Torre.

“One side was the view out of Torbay towards Brixham in the distance featuring beach huts at Corbyn Head round to Goodrington and beyond.

“The other was an imagined view towards Dartmoor featuring Torre Church, the oldest in Torbay, mentioned in the Doomsday Book, St Michael’s Chapel, Torre Station, the first in Torbay, a Victorian post-box, the first in Torbay and assorted birds that can be seen locally.

“Plants, flowers, and trees were painted in to bring lots of colour and texture into the foreground.

“My experience of painting this was wonderful. Everyone wanted to know about it and it became apparent that it was bringing joy and hope to residents who had previously felt that this area (and they themselves) had been neglected and forgotten about. 

“People asked questions, offered drinks, cake, shook my hand, and two people bought me scratch cards as a thank you.

“The sense of community engagement and pride was really wonderful. I hope that it helps to improve everyone’s everyday lives. Many thanks for asking me to be involved. Best regards to the Torre Community.