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Children create Crossrail-inspired art

By Christina Andersen

Children create Crossrail-inspired art

Last week, Crossrail joined forces with Laing O’Rourke and Arts for All to deliver the first of a series of workshops teaching local budding artists to create construction-inspired artworks.

The initiative saw a group of 8-15 year-old children from Tower Hamlets invited to Crossrail’s Liverpool Street site office.  The children attend Shoreditch-based charity Arts for All, which builds confidence in young people through creative achievement.

Led by Crossrail’s Artist-in-Residence Julie Leonard, over three days the children used iPads to create digital artworks based on views of the Liverpool Street construction sites. Volunteers from Laing O’Rourke were on-hand to talk about the construction work and interact with the young artists, providing presentations on Crossrail and the diverse range of jobs and people involved.

The workshops were organised as part of Crossrail’s Community Investment Programme, which requires contractors to donate skills, time and money to bring lasting benefit the local communities in which they work, and the Crossrail Art Programme, which aims to embed culture in Europe’s largest construction project.

The result was a series of individual and group art pieces interpreting Crossrail and on-going work at Liverpool Street. On Saturday, 26 July the children presented their work to family and friends, demonstrating their new found artistic methods. Some of the artworks proved so popular they will remain on permanent display at Liverpool Street Crossrail site office.

A formal exhibition is planned for September and a book will be produced to help raise funds for the charity.

Malcolm Nelson, Laing O'Rourke Project Director at Liverpool Street, said: “This has been an absolutely fantastic project for our team to be involved in. Laing O’Rourke is totally committed to community investment and the value that this brings to the local community. The opportunity to engage young people creatively in what we are doing has been something the team have really enjoyed and have taken inspiration from. The young people have been a pleasure to work with and we’ve hoped they’ve learnt not only about the challenge of what we are building but about engineering and construction more generally. I for one loved it and couldn’t put my iPad down!”

Caroline Barlow, Manager at Arts for All, said: “Arts for All had the pleasure of spending three days at the Crossrail site at Liverpool Street. We were welcomed so warmly by every member of the Crossrail team. Working with Julie was a great experience for the children and they all produced some exciting pieces of art work over the course of workshop. We are really grateful for the care and thought that went into the planning and delivery of this wonderful project.”

Julie Leonard, Crossrail’s Artist-in-Residence, said: “The Liverpool Street workshop hosted by Laing O'Rourke was a fun and inspiring three days. The young people from Arts for All and the volunteer staff who joined us had such energy and enthusiasm for my way of working and the construction happening around them. I was taken aback by the quality and quantity of work produced in such a short time.”

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Notes to editors

Julie Leonard is a London-based digital artist. In January 2014 she was appointed Crossrail’s first Artist-in-Residence to provide a visual narrative of Europe’s largest construction project, incorporating anecdotes from the workforce and communities living and working along the Crossrail route.  Using only her iPhone, she has been working across several Crossrail sites to provide a unique archive and visual legacy of places that people rarely see.

Arts for All is a community creative centre based in the East End of London, running creative clubs and classes for local people. An important part of its work is offering local children and young people from a wide range of social and cultural backgrounds a safe place to go after school each day to develop their creative skills. Frequent visits to schools, nurseries, hospitals and community centres result in a wide range of creative projects.

Arts for All welcomes volunteers and donations to its Just Giving page (Registered charity number 1096859).

To read more about the charity and the work they do, please visit their website or follow them on Facebook