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Wakeman Trail takes pride of place at Shrewsbury Shopping centre

Shrewsbury shoppers can now enjoy part of the popular historic Wakeman ‘Look Up’ Trail, after some of the famed ceramic tiles went on display at Pride Hill Shopping Centre.

The new feature was installed as part of the £85,000 refurbishment of the customer toilet facilities, and offers a chance to see some of the historic Wakeman School and Arts College artwork that has been preserved as part of the ongoing project.

Shrewsbury Shopping Centre Manager Kevin Lockwood said he was thrilled to be able to bring the 'Look Up' project to Pride Hill. “When we were drawing up the plans for the refurbishment of the customer facilities, we wanted to do something a little different,” said Kevin. “We got in touch with Maggie Love, a former Wakeman pupil who herself works closely with the organisers, and asked if we could be a part of the project.”

The Wakeman Trail features beautiful installations inspired by Shrewsbury's famed architecture - comprising thousands of low-relief, ceramic tiles of windows, doorways and door-knockers from across the town - created by generations of Wakeman Students.

“The aim of the displays is to encourage visitors and residents, young and old, to ‘look up’ and recognise and appreciate the town’s rich heritage,” said Kevin. “Pride Hill has become the 23rd site on the trail, and we could not be more proud.”

The tiles have taken pride of place in a special display area by the entrance to the centre’s newly-refurbished customer toilet facilities. “We contracted local artist Bill McCabe to work with Maggie and they have seamlessly integrated the tiles into the design for the new amenities,” said Kevin. “The interior walls now boast a beautiful skyline of Shrewsbury, and our new baby changing room is decorated with an assortment of animals and characters to make it a welcoming and pleasant environment,” said Kevin. “We could not be happier with how everything now looks.”

The ceramic art of the Wakeman Trail has been displayed at exhibitions across the country, including ‘The Sanctuary Building’ in Westminster and Birmingham and Manchester Art Galleries.

“The trail is truly special and unique, and it’s only fitting that young people’s work of this quality is appreciated and celebrated in the town which provided the inspiration - and in which it was produced,” said Maggie Love, who co-ordinated the installation. “The work belongs to the town, and this latest installation is complemented beautifully by Bill’s paintings.”

With a further six sites already approved by English Heritage, the Wakeman Trail is set to grow in size as its popularity continues to bloom.

Mike Griffiths, former Director of Arts at The Wakeman School and Arts College, said the inspiration for the trail came from a conversation with his pupils in the 1980s. “Talking to pupils in my first lesson, I asked what they had seen on their way to school,” he said, “and the answer I got was ‘nothing’.

“They, like most of us, failed to appreciate our surroundings. Teaching thousands of children to ‘look up’, I hope I have made many more aware of the delights of the town’s buildings and features. I hope this project will encourage future generations to appreciate and recognise what the town has to offer.”

Following the installation of the Wakeman Trail display at Pride Hill, Shrewsbury Shopping Centre’s Kevin Lockwood said the art had already proved a hit with visitors.

“The tiles are of particular interest to families and children, who enjoy the ‘mystery’ of finding out what had inspired each young artist,” he said. “We’re immensely pleased and proud to be a part of this fantastic project, and are extremely grateful to Maggie, Bill and Mike for making this happen.”