Blackpool streets ahead for urban art

Artist Nils Westergrad created an urban art piece in Blackpool as a curtain-raiser for Sand Sea and Spray festival.
Artist Nils Westergrad created an urban art piece in Blackpool as a curtain-raiser for Sand Sea and Spray festival.

Blackpool is once again a blank canvas.

Art has never been confined between four walls in Britain’s top resort - and once again the Sand, Sea and Spray festival is putting Blackpool on the global map for urban art.

Sand Sea and Spray festival creative director Robin Ross

Sand Sea and Spray festival creative director Robin Ross

Officially, it all happens between Friday and Sunday when 30 artists hit town and paint it red - and read - and just about everything else.

But the interest and goodwill extends way beyond the town centre. Blackpool is big on creative spirit. Left Coast hit the headlines time and again with innovative art. The town also boasts exceptional art networks including the inspirational Ican creative hub, made up of some 200 or more independent artists, all pulling together for the resort, and showing what a fantastic arts scene exists locally.

The MBE should surely be in the post by now for the artist who started the Sand Sea and Spray festival back in 2011 - former dj Robin Ross is creative director of the festival. Robin, who works out of the Old Rock Factory in the town centre, says: “The beauty of the festival is that is it’s not all teenagers and hip hop, as some think, but for all ages from six to 90. One lady told me the other day I’m so glad it’s coming because my mum loves it.

“The first took place in 2011 but it’s now 10 years since I first started it really going. It was about four years in the making. It happened because back then urban art, street art, was the stuff galleries turned away.

The festival was born of my frustration at the lack of recognition for urban artists - or how they can transform a town for the better

“They used to say it’s not for us or the age range we have. So the artists would go round the corner and paint a wall and two years later the gallery would want to show them. Just look at the fantastic artists to have emerged- mega stars such as Pure Evil, My Dog Sighs and more. The festival was born of my frustration at the lack of recognition for urban artists - or how they can transform a town for the better. There’s longevity there too.

“Art endures. These paintings last two years - if the mortar doesn’t leak. We have volunteers out prepping the walls. The other week we had people here from Walsall, Widnes, Liverpool, inquiries for the festival come from New York , Spain, all over. I’m immensely proud of it.”

* More details available on www.sandseaandspray.co.uk.