Former BHS store turned into a public art project by local signwriter


A signwriter is producing a festive public art project at the site of the empty former BHS store in Southend High Street in time for Saturday’s Big Switch On event.

Hadleigh-based signwriter Charlotte Wright has been commissioned by Southend Business Improvement District to paint four large designs on a
brief of reflecting the season and bringing a feeling of optimism and positivity.

Charlotte has created four designs that use geometric shapes and patterns combined with inspirational text.
Her designs reflect the tones of winter, although she admits that her use of pastel pink board is more because she loves the colour than the fact it evokes rosy cheeks and noses.

Each panel bears a separate line of text and can be
read individually as a positive statement or collectively
as a short poem.

Charlotte added that her boyfriend Joe’s late father, Chris Lang, was the source of inspiration for these pithy lines that are reminiscent of Japanese haiku poetry.

She said: “Chris was a Southend-based poet and artists and we recently found lots of his written work. From this starting point I took his words and messages, added my own slant to them and created the new text which flows across the four boards. They can be read individually or as a collective whole. I wanted to create a talking point as well as a selfie opportunity. You can take one photo or a group of four.”

Visitors to Southend will be familiar with Charlotte’s other signage. Her finger posts at this summer’s Village Green were influential in winning the BID’s commission, while her work adorns the shop front and A-boards for Pulp Kitchen in Alexandra Street.

This is not the first time that Southend BID has invested in public art to delight and surprise visitors to the town. Back in 2012, the BID installed a series of playful planters along the High Street, one most notably in the shape of a stiletto-heeled shoe.

Alison Dewey, BID Manager says: “I’m really excited about this project. The empty BHS unit is such a sad-looking building without customers coming and going through its doors, so while we try to find a new firm to take it over, it’s nice to give its exterior a creative twist. We met Charlotte thanks to the team at Metal, and we’re really excited to see what she produces.”

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