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Art on the move - young people's project hits the road

28th Mar 2022

We're excited to share news that Under Our Umbrella, a brand new artwork made by young people from Wonder Arts is hitting the roads of St Helens this week.

Created in collaboration with bus operator Arriva, the project has seen a local St Helens bus transformed by a group of young people from Wonder Arts (previously Citadel Arts) working with artist Michelle Wren.

Michelle and the Wonder Arts ‘Young Wonders’ group, began by creating a series of drawings based around themes that they felt were important in society today. Discussing issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement, gender identity and equality, as well as mental health and wellbeing, together they translated their ideas and concepts into the final striking design.

As part of their research, the group also spent time with bus drivers and passengers uncovering their stories and experiences of working and travelling on buses in St Helens.

Illustrating how we all have the power to include and support each other, we hope this piece will share a positive message with people across the borough.

As Artist Michelle Wren says: “Everything the young people were saying was about inclusivity and acceptance and that was so striking. I know I could have used this bus driving round St Helens when I was growing up to make me feel like it was okay to be me. I am so proud of what every young person has brought to this project and their lack of fear to share their voice and be heard.”

Angharad Williams, our Head of Programme: Creative People and Places added: “It’s been wonderful to work with our friends and neighbours at Wonder Arts on this project along with the brilliant artist Michelle Wren. The young people have blown us away with their creativity, and we can’t wait to see the reactions of the people of St Helens when they see the transformed Arriva bus!”

Fay Lamb, Chief Executive of Wonder Arts said: “It has been a wonderful experience to work with the amazing Michelle Wren, our trusted partners Heart of Glass and the fabulous Young Wonders group on this fantastic project. The Young Wonders members have gained skills and experiences which will stay with them for life. We all can’t wait to see the bus!”

Lisa Pearson, Head of Marketing Arriva UK Bus, said, “We’re proud to be a part of this exciting and important community project for St Helens and we encourage people to look out for the bus in St Helens.”

Part of a wider series of street art projects, we are also collaborating with members of Buzzhub St Helens CDP, the LGBTQI+ community and artists Emma Colbert (in collaboration with Homotopia), Rudy Loewe, Bea Albanese and Kathryn Edwards, to produce further bus designs as well as a series of onboard advertising panels.

Michelle Wren