Underneath the main road into Worthing town centre lies a new ‘art gallery’.
The Chapel Road underpass has been transformed by Big Enchilada, a community group set up by Kary Fisher and John McCormack.
Kary said: “The objective of the project was to transform what was a dark, uninspiring space used frequently by local residents to access shopping areas of town, into a safe, bright ‘gallery’ space.”
The underground walkway, which connects North Street and the two sides of the Chapel Road dual-carriageway, has three 40ft tunnels which join together in a central circle.
Big Enchilada artists painted six walls during the first and second stage of the creative process, with the second phase of artwork being completed by Kary, a freelance graphic designer, and artist John.
The project was supported by West Sussex County Council, Worthing Borough Council and a £500 grant from Worthing Community Chest.
Kary and John set up Big Enchilada as a West Sussex based arts group specialising in large-scale public art projects such as murals, street art and installations.
Kary studied mural art in Paris and went on to do graphic design and illustration. She is now a painter, illustrator, muralist and printmaker.
She said: “Our aim is to challenge the perception of street art and transform empty, uninspiring public or private spaces into works of art, thus becoming temporary or permanent ‘galleries’ accessible to all.
“We discovered from local inhabitants, regular users of the Chapel Road underpass, that the majority felt safer and happier in a bright and creative space as opposed to having blank walls, and welcomed new artwork.
“Our objective was to design something that would feel inspiring, friendly, uplifting yet as diverse as the users themselves, creating a talking point.
“One wall features a portrait of a young girl surrounded by coloured three dimensional-style shapes, generating a feeling of depth to the wall. On another, silhouettes of children live in an imaginary world full of patterns and vegetation, using colours which illuminate the potentially dark space. The third wall we painted concentrated on a woodland theme, with giant squirrels and trees, bringing nature into a normally urban setting.
“All the people, of all ages, we met over four days gave positive comments, stories and encouragement.”
Roger Oakley, West Sussex county councillor for Worthing East, said he had high hopes, adding: “I would like to see similar projects undertaken in Worthing with perhaps some funding from the Arts Council.”
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