North Road Primary School
Engine Common, South Glos
North Road Community Primary School in Engine Common near Yate, South Gloucestershire commissioned visual artist and designer Molly Hawkins to create a new permanent outdoor artwork for the school building and playground. The commission was funded by Cotswold Homes as part of the planning obligations for their nearby housing development, The Grove. Suzanne Heath was appointed by Cotswold Homes as curator and project manager, overseeing the project from inception through to delivery. This project was conceived as an ‘off site’ project, given the wider opportunity identified at the school to create a project with real community impact and local engagement.
Molly was appointed in April 2022 and developed her designs over the spring and summer through visits to the school and a series of badgemaking and printmaking and collage workshops she held for all of the school’s pupils aged 4 – 11 as part of her initial ‘artist residency’ phase. The imagery produced by the children during these workshops, together with information gathered during Molly’s site visits and attendance at School Council meetings, informed her final design proposal. The colour palette of the artwork references the school’s branding and uniform colours (purple and green) and the motifs indirectly reference the architecture of the historic school building, elements of the natural world surrounding the school and the school’s passion for sports, singing and dancing. The mural design is a celebration of the unique, joyful, nurturing and supportive atmosphere at North Road Primary School and intends to capture some of its energy, and reflect the school’s North Road values: Respect, Positivity, Perseverance, Ambition, Pride and Responsibility.
The gable end wall site located in the school playground was chosen through discussion with the school, to replace a pre-existing mural there that had fallen into disrepair. In addition to funding the new artwork, and to ensure the longevity of the new artwork, Cotswold Homes also funded the preparatory work of the wall – removing the old mural, patching and re-rendering the wall.
The wall mural was painted on site by Molly and her team during the 2022 summer holidays, with the accompanying floor-based design element being installed by Uni-Play in September 2022.
As well as the wall mural, the artist removed the two basketball hoops previously on the wall, resprayed them and reconditioned the backboard, adding coloured vinyl decals and replacing the hoop nets and climbing holds to match in with the wall mural colours and design. The school council gave feedback that they wanted to keep both hoops, but move them to one side of the wall, so that other children could be ‘bouldering’ on the climbing holds, without getting hit on the head by basketballs.
About the artist
Molly Hawkins is a Bristol-based visual artist and designer known for creating vibrant, large-scale visual interactions with humans, architecture and surrounding spaces. Her work as a muralist is strongly influenced by her interest in colour, pattern and movement, creating artworks that are playful, joyful and spark positivity for their communities.
Delivering bespoke art projects internationally, Molly has created pieces in Mexico, India, Colombia and throughout Europe. Her work includes entire building murals, painted basketball courts, street art and set design.
Previously recognised for her work with costume, set and puppet design, Molly studied Theatre and Performance Design at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), graduating in 2013. Molly’s eclectic background ignites a passion for community engagement, whilst making art that is accessible and enjoyed by all.
Molly has created work for sites across the UK ranging from cafes, bars and workspaces to theatres, museums and arts centres. Her recent projects have included collaborations with ethical clothing brand Lucy & Yak, the charity Surfers Against Sewage and a painted installation to celebrate Pride with Fat Face. Other past projects include a 3 x 3 basketball court mural at Writtle University College in Essex, painted house fronts in Bristol, and the ‘Sparkasse Bank’ in Flensburg, Northern Germany. She was supported with a DYCP grant from Arts Council England in 2021 and has also received funding from the Abbey Harris Mural Fund. You can follow Molly on Instagram