Work is ongoing to make town centres safe and attractive places to shop, exercise and socialise. The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on our daily lives.  But Kirklees Council is keen to remind people that although we haven’t beaten the virus yet, it is supporting businesses to make our town centres safe and welcoming places to visit.

One way the council hopes to achieve both is through #HEARTyourtown which will see temporary art installations by local artists appearing in Huddersfield and Dewsbury this summer. The artworks will provide colour and interest across each town, keeping people in queues entertained and encouraging people to spend time in less busy areas, whilst also providing an opportunity to contemplate the impact the pandemic has had on us all.

Cllr Rob Walker, Cabinet Member for Culture said: “Art is more than the creation of something beautiful. It is also good for our mental health and can help us make sense of our feelings and experiences, something we could probably all benefit from at this time. We are proud to be supporting local artists through this project, many of whom have been unable to work or claim financial support during the lockdown.  The creative sector is a significant contributor to the local economy and has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, so if we can provide work for some of these artists whilst providing something for everyone to enjoy that has to be a good thing.”

The first of the artworks appeared on Huddersfield’s streets this week. These include temporary sculptures by Jane Howroyd in St George’s Square, Angela Boycott-Garnett in St Peter’s Gardens and Helen Brook in Market Place. The works are all very different and reflect the individual artists’ thoughts on themes such as climate change, healing and community resilience. 

There are also shop window displays in the Piazza, featuring works from The West Yorkshire Print Workshop, Colourcity, ame and Collaborati.

Hidden Galleries featuring images of each town’s heritage can be found in bricked up windows and spaces around both Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

The council has also commissioned a local textile designer and illustrator, Benaiah Matheson, to create designs to be painted on hoardings in Huddersfield and for shop windows in Dewsbury. These include works of ‘respect’, ‘community’ and ‘kindness’.

Nelson Mandela Corner in Huddersfield (10 August) and The Memorial Gardens in Dewsbury (11 August) will be turned into beautiful ceramic meadows as part of Garden Stories by Ammie Flexen and Kathleen Yore. The displays of colourful clay flowers reflect how outdoor spaces, gardens and nature have been really important to many of us during lockdown. Ammie and Kathleen drew inspiration from garden models created by the public to develop this beautiful ceramic meadow which will continue to grow throughout August. 300 children and their teachers took part in the project by making many of the clay flowers in their school bubbles.  You can see the mini gardens that influenced the project on the garden stories facebook page or on instagram.

More artworks are planned for later in the month in both towns and information will be available on the council’s website on the council’s Instagram channel @kirklees.council.