A York rail bridge has been transformed into an outdoor art gallery thanks to a creative approach to tackling graffiti.
This majestic Mallard now swoops along Love Lane footbridge in York, alongside other flora and fauna painted by Yorkshire artist Emma Garness.
She was commissioned by Network Rail to decorate the bridge as part of a wider project to tackle graffiti in the area.
Graffiti is unpleasant for residents who use the bridge, as well as for rail passengers. But cleaning it costs millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and uses valuable time, which could be used making improvements to the railway.
Chris Goodwin maintains the area around the railway. His team have had to paint over graffiti on Love Lane bridge – which runs over the East Coast Main Line – multiple times.
With ongoing problems at Hospital Bridge in York and Dragon Bridge in Harrogate, they organised a project to make people think twice about targeting the sites.
‘A breath of fresh air’
Instead of returning yet again with more grey paint, they commissioned East Riding Voluntary Action Services, known as ERVAS, and artist Emma, to design and paint a piece for the three bridges.
Work was completed over the weekend on Love Lane bridge. The artwork includes the mallard ducks to represent the nearby nature reserve, Hob Moor.
Hospital bridge will have an NHS theme. Chris said: “We organised this project to help brighten up the area and the artwork at Love Lane bridge looks amazing.
“Network Rail is determined to tackle graffiti on and near the railway, but unfortunately it’s an ongoing problem. We have spent valuable time covering graffiti on these bridges, only to have to return when the area is targeted again.
“There have been so many positive comments from people in the community already and I can’t wait to see the work completed at Hospital Bridge and Dragon Bridge.”
Artist Emma said: “It’s been a breath of fresh air painting this 40-metre footbridge for Network Rail. Under normal circumstances, I would have involved the local community in the painting of this mural.
“The next best thing I could do was to connect it with references to the immediate location – the mallard ducks on Hob Moor and the 1,000 bluebell bulbs planted by volunteers in November on Little Hob Moor. These two areas are enjoyed by the local community.
“All of these visual connections help make this footbridge a light, positive and bright place to walk across. Whist painting it, I had some lovely conversations with the local families who have told me how much they appreciate the work.”
This project follows the work they completed in January at Temple Lane road bridge in Copmanthorpe.
Holgate ward councillors Rachel Melly and Kallum Taylor have been working with Network Rail for a long time to make improvements to this bridge, and the art is part of that.
Cllr Melly said: “We hope local residents will enjoy the new artwork when they walk to school, work, or for leisure. We want people to be able to take pride in their local area, and this beautiful new artwork will contribute to that.”
“We will continue to work constructively with Network Rail to make this bridge and other access routes as safe and usable as possible,” said Cllr Taylor.
“We continue to push for better lighting so this key route can be safe for everyone”
If you see someone graffitiing on the railway, please report it to the British Transport Police by calling 0800 40 50 40 or texting 61016. You can also call Network Rail’s 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.