Student art hides demolition

HOARDINGS around the Sheer House redevelopment site at West Byfleet have been brightened up by art students from Woking College.

The students’ mural on the Station Approach side of the Sheer House redevelopment block, where demolition cranes are at work pulling down the 1960s buildings

They have used their creative talents to paint murals that draw inspiration from the village’s history, including the surrounding lavender fields that once produced essential oils.

Around 30 yards of hoarding were completed in just five days by the students, between taking exams and staging their final year exhibitions. They painted the 20 panels at the sixth form college in Old Woking.

Students (from left) Tahla Thomson, Carmen Noble, Megan Shrives and Ethan Hopkins with their artwork

The students were guided by local artist Nathalie Beauvillain Scott, in a project commissioned by the site’s developer, Retirement Villages Group (RVG).

As well as the lavender fields, the paintings depict other rural scenes around the village and a lock and boats on the Basingstoke Canal. There are also glimpses of how the area will look when the redevelopment is complete and a view of the Woking town centre tower blocks.

Carmen Noble is one of the students who worked on the hoardings, which are on the Station Approach side of the site. “Being a part of such a unique and fun project has been great,” she said.

“With the end of the year coming up and with our class having not seen each other as much as we would have liked to this year, it’s been really fun to work on something together.”

Nathalie added: “While it was a challenge having to complete it all in just a week, it’s been an amazing result. It was also a joy working with such talented students, who were very inspiring.”

Demolition workers are now taking down the unloved Sheer House office building and the other 1960s concrete buildings on the village centre block.

Nathalie Beauvillain Scott (right) working with Megan Shrives on rural scenes panels

RVG is planning to build a new village centre that includes 196 retirement homes, new community facilities including a library, shops, a public square and car park. Construction is due to start at the end of this year.

The company’s planning and design director, Guy Flintoft, said: “Working closely with the local community is a central part of our approach to this project and we are delighted to have had the opportunity to involve such a talented group of students.

“From the fantastic response we’ve received from the community so far, we are positive that the murals are something the whole community will be able to enjoy.”

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