Local artist creates detailed Swindon map mural to adorn Mechanic's Institute building

By Jessica Durston - 20 September 2022

CommunityArts and Culture
  • Marilyn posed in front of her map commission

    Marilyn posed in front of her map commission

Local artist and map specialist Marilyn Trew has created a large and detailed mural which can be found around the sides of the Mechanic's Institute building.

Marilyn started the project back in March, and the finished piece was put up for public display this month.

The local artist, who lives in Royal Wootton Bassett, received a phone call back in March from Karen Phimister of Swindon's Heritage Action Zone. 

Karen invited Marilyn to complete a paid commission to be displayed on the hoardings around both sides of the Mechanic's Institute building. She was tasked with creating a map that covers the area from Swindon's Pattern Church, to the town's train station. 

Marilyn has been making pictorial maps for a number of years prior to this commission. She has made maps for routes along the Wiltshire & Berkshire Canal, St Michael’s Park in Cirencester, the routes along the Royal Wootton Bassett Canal for routes in Melksham, the Merchant’s House in Marlborough and more.

The local artist says she usually specialises in maps for woodlands or more natural areas, and animals. She remarked that the subject matter for this piece was outside of her usual comfort zone, but provided her with a great challenge.

She added: "I can’t believe that I’ve done it. I’m not used to drawing a map for this scale, and sketching buildings. My scenes tend to be more natural and woodland-focused. I was so grateful for this opportunity.”

Marilyn had to undergo lots of research to ensure that her maps were accurate, and that everything sat in the correct place. She said she had to plot everything in advance, and that she had help with her research from local Swindon historian Royston Cartwright. His name also appears beside hers on the mural. 

The Bassett-based artist said that the research stage of the map’s construction was great, and that she found a new appreciation of this area of Swindon.

Her finished piece measures around 16ft by 6ft. Her map designs are usually to the scale of A3 size, so creating something for this larger sized surface was said to have posed its own challenges. 

Marilyn said she would have to send off her various designs for each of the four panels seperately, so they could all be checked and accepted. She added that it was hard work as everything was designed and drawn by hand. She would first create a pencil drawing, then create the designs in ink, and then create a coloured version. 

She commented: "It felt like sending away a child when sending off my map designs each time. I'm so proud of this project."

Once everything was given the green light, her map was sent off to a printer in Newbury. 

The Heritage Action Zone team met with other members of Swindon Borough Council and the mural piece was organised and placed for the public to see. 

Marilyn’s map is part of a collection of artistic murals that cover the hoardings outside the Mechanic’s Institute building. Sally Taylor of Artsite Swindon has worked for around six months with Karen Phimister to get the various mural works commissioned and organised.

Other artists that have worked to create murals for the building’s hoardings include Tim Carrol, Hannah Dosanjh, Sean (Zer0-g), Max Dawkins, Caryn Koh, Kate Parsons, Sue Bardwell, Casey Hillier and Hannah Parry.

The artists visited local schools to speak to students and gain inspiration and ideas.

The murals aim to reflect the heritage of the area, and feature Swindon landmarks, as well as putting a focus on health and wellbeing.

The idea of preserving and celebrating Swindon's heritage is something that Marilyn also agrees is important. 

She said: "We need to protect the heritage we have in Swindon. I don’t think we give enough credence to what we have here."

More information about Marilyn can be found on her Facebook pages:

Marilyn’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thepuffinshack

Marilyn’s Maps Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100066662331265

More information about Swindon's Heritage Action Zone can be found at https://www.swindon.gov.uk/info/20030/planning_and_regeneration/1016/the_swindon_heritage_action_zone

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