Take part in an interactive urban drawing day around Bedford High Street


This Saturday, everyone is invited to channel their inner artist and go on a creative exploration of Bedford High Street with Bedford Urban Sketchers.

From 10am – 4pm, artists Katy Hawkins and Talia Giles will be leading an interactive drawing day to give ‘hometown tourists’ a new perspective to see and sketch the hidden details that we often miss in our day-to-day lives.

Using the newly designed High Street Exploration cards as prompts, ‘urban artists’ will set off on their own journey to discover and draw their surroundings.

This might include looking up and drawing the tops of buildings or capturing hidden details normally missed by busy passers-by.

The event is free and for all ages and drawing skill levels. There are two meeting points where you can chat to Talia or Katy, choose your High Street exploration prompt card, and collect your A3 paper and board:

Meeting Hub 1: next to the Silver Faces, Silver Street, Bedford, MK40 1SU
Meeting Hub 2: Riverside Square, Bedford, MK40 1AS

You can find out even more at their Facebook event page here.

Materials for sketching will be provided, but if you sketch regularly, you are encouraged to bring your own drawing/painting materials and drawing board. A3 project paper will be provided for everyone. The event will be going ahead whatever the weather as sketchers will use shop fronts and café window seating.

Evolution and metamorphosis of town centres

“Urban Sketching in the town centre is an opportunity to pause and consider the high street’s role as the beating heart of the local community and appreciate how it has changed and adapted to our times and needs,” said Talia.

Artist, Talia Giles, runs the regular Bedford Urban Sketchers’ events

“This event couldn’t have come at a better time – society’s notion of the ‘high street’ has to evolve in order for communities to realise that town centres are just as integral to our way of life, and social interaction as they once were, but without the familiarity of high street chains.

“Pausing, and taking the time to draw in situ, will help people re-engage with their public spaces and services, and visitors will hopefully notice that Bedford town centre is going through an incredible metamorphosis and is fit to bursting with new life.”

Ellen Harrison, Head of Creative Programmes and Campaigns at Historic England, said: “The High Street Exploration Sketching Day is a fabulous opportunity for Bedford residents to creatively capture their own unique impression of the local high street.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what sparks people’s imagination.”

Artist Katy Hawkins said she’s excited to have partnered with Talia and the Bedford Urban Sketchers. “Urban sketching is such a great example of the opportunities a high street and a dynamic urban realm can offer: opportunities to be inspired and be creative.

“We feel the cards work well as creative prompts or briefs, to invite a certain way of looking or focus to hopefully see and capture something you might not normally.”

Artists Katy Hawkins and Ellie Shipman connected with local communities to discover stories, features and uses of Bedford High Street, in order to make visible and share more widely some of the things that people like and appreciate about the place.

The Bedford High Street Exploration Cards have been designed to promote urban exploration, reflection and adventure.

An illustrated map highlights some of Bedford’s many historic moments, present day curiosities and questions about its future. Together, they encourage visitors and residents to take a new journey of discovery around familiar spaces.

‘Twin Town’ Heritage Action Zones

High Street Explorations is a nationally commissioned project by Historic England to support the Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone, a four-year programme of investment for local communities and visitors.

The Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone aims to make the high street a more attractive place for communities to live, work and enjoy leisure activities.

Bedford High Street Explorations project is part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) and is being run in partnership with the HAZ Cultural Workgroup and Bedford Borough Council, with funding from Historic England, Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Bedford is one of just six ‘Twin Towns’ commissions that are part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme.

The Cultural Programme aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time.

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