Weston’s SUPER WONDER SHRINE arrives in glorious technicolour on the High Street
A vibrant public artwork celebrating Weston-super-Mare’s community, and co-created by internationally acclaimed public realm artist Morag Myerscough with local artists and residents, has taken pride of place in the town’s High Street.
‘SUPER WONDER SHRINE’ was officially opened on Friday 9 December at a launch event attended by the artist, community members involved in the project, local councillors and the general public. Alongside speeches, ribbon cutting and live music, there was a ‘pooch parade’ with pet and people portraits, to mark the town’s love of dogs – a central theme that emerged from engagement sessions with the community.
Following Morag Myerscough’s trademark timber-built style, and adorned with bold and colourful patterns and words from the community, SUPER WONDER SHRINE is animating pedestrianised space on the corner of the High Street and Regent Street, an area known locally as Big Lamp Corner.
This is part of ‘21st Century super Shrines’, a pioneering heritage project launched in May 2021 that is managed by Culture Weston. It is part of a four-year High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) cultural programme, funded by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
There are plans to develop a curated programme of free, outdoor ‘happenings’ presented by Culture Weston at the temporary Shrine in the months ahead. These will include music, spoken word and art, alongside a regular people’s platform of community activities.
Follow @cultureweston on social media for the latest updates on SUPER WONDER SHRINE activities.
The project is the culmination of months of community collaboration and activity led locally by visual artist and social maker Megan Clark-Bagnall, through which Morag Myerscough engaged with local people in a series of public sessions. From online discussion forums to in-person workshops, a creatively led exploration of what makes Weston town special resulted in an array of vibrant patterns, warm sentiments and a love of dogs!
The final painting and pattern application of the structure was undertaken by local creatives, together with over 45 students from Weston College with hands-on guidance from Morag Myerscough in what was a genuine skills and community-building process.
Crafted and built by Weston-based master joiner Simon Birtwistle and local maker Shelley Jane, the temporary bandstand shaped structure was constructed from sustainably sourced timber approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and features sheltered seating, a small performance area, words of wonder from local people and an interior roof that bursts with dog names, including Morag’s dog ‘Elvis’. The exterior roof tiles give new life to a recycled dance floor.
Morag Myerscough said: “I have enjoyed every moment of this project. Weston-super-Mare community are incredible and work so closely together with a true sense of belonging, fun and joy. I am grateful to have been invited in and to be able to co-create the ’SUPER WONDER SHRINE’ with such an amazing group of humans.”
The project has also created a new YouTube series of ‘Chip Chat’ conversations led by Megan Clark-Bagnall and featuring Morag Myerscough chatting about culture over chips.
Fiona Matthews, creative director at Culture Weston, said: “Involving over 100 community members of all ages in its design and fabrication, this project has radiated joy from first workshop to final polka dot! Morag Myerscough’s fantastic vision stems from working with local communities to co-create artistic landmarks that instill a sense of belonging. The project has also importantly provided employment opportunities for the town’s creatives and offered an unforgettable educational experience to Weston College students.
“SUPER WONDER SHRINE is a multi-faceted and vibrant testament to Weston’s energy and positivity right at the heart of the high street.”
Ellen Harrison, Head of Public Programming at Historic England, said: “The SUPER WONDER SHRINE is a brilliant new landmark in the heart of Weston and a wonderful example of the role culture and creativity play in the regeneration of our high streets. It’ll be the focal point for inspiring events in the coming months and bring even more colour and character to the historic town centre.”
‘SUPER WONDER SHRINE’ has brought together support from local and national organisations, including Weston College, Cuppa Architects, the Sovereign for providing the painting space, YesColours for supplying eco-friendly paints, Faithful+Gould for Construction, Design and Management consultancy, Hydrock for structural engineering support, plus donations from Burges Salmon, Alun Griffiths and Kier.