A new artwork has been installed on Short Wyre Street to act as a wayfinding piece as part of Our Colchester Business Improvement District's (BID) support for the independent sector. Situated at the Queen Street end of Short Wyre Street, the installation is designed to celebrate the vibrancy of the small independent retailers and businesses along Short Wyre Street, Eld Lane and Sir Isaac's Walk and act as a wayfinding piece to help visitors navigate through the town centre
The artwork has been designed and created by local Colchester artist and sculptor Nicola Burrell, supported by local architecture practice HAT Projects. The BID commissioned the artwork and have overseen the project delivery alongside Colchester Borough Council who have funded the project. Consultations in 2021 showed a positive public response to the artwork wayfinding piece.
This installation is a result of the BID commissioned Indies Route Strategy, a report authored by HAT Projects which made recommendations on how to support the independent sector in Colchester’s town centre. Our Colchester BID commissioned this research to help inform their targeted plan to support and champion independent businesses within the BID zone. The findings resulted in many suggestions including improving the signage and wayfinding elements to help guide visitors to key
destinations within the town centre.
The artwork comprises a series of hand-made stainless steel ‘lanterns’ spelling out the names of the streets, shaped to be visible from all angles and with coloured Perspex letters that will glow at night. Above them is a distinctively ‘Colchester’ streetscape of buildings inspired by the architecture along the ‘Indies’ route, including representations of the Baptist Church, the almshouses on Eld Lane, the Clarence pub (now the Purple Dog) and the tower of Holy Trinity Church as well as the historic Southgate which used to be next to the site.
Nicola Burrell hand-built the artwork, working with local steel fabricators Wesbroom Engineering and lighting installers Gala Lighting. Momentum structural engineers supported the project along with HAT Projects.
The BID’s placemaking work extends beyond this new installation and includes the 377m of lighting across Sir Isaacs Walk, Eld Lane, and Short Wyre Street, the Parklets on the high street, the BID in Bloom planting project, and will soon also be joined with more projects designed to bring vibrancy to the streets of Colchester.
BID Manager Sam Good said: “It’s wonderful to finally see this new wayfinding artwork in place on Short Wyre Street. Colchester is home to so many wonderful independent retail and hospitality traders and it’s brilliant to be able to highlight them through projects like this wayfinding artwork.
We’re champions of local, so it makes me very proud to say that the archway was imagined, designed, and built by a local Colchester artist.”
Cllr David King, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, added: “It's a delight to see businesses drawing attention to all they do. Our local independent traders bring variety, a distinctive feel and quality-of-choice to a thriving town centre. They help us all to ensure Colchester offers the best welcome possible to residents and visitors to our great city-to-be.”
Artist Nicola Burrell said: “It has been a real joy to make a public artwork for my home town, drawing inspiration from this historic Roman street running from Southgate to Headgate. I spent a lot of time drawing on site and studying the buildings in a lot of detail, exploring how to celebrate this area in the context of the town as a whole. I’m so delighted with how it has come together.”
Robin Alderton of HAT Projects said “We are thrilled to have enabled this unique artwork to be created as way to draw people to explore the wonderful independent shops in the town centre. We hope that it will inspire and delight visitors and residents alike.”