June 2021

Colourful characters return to Withernsea seafront!

Some of Withernsea’s most eye-catching pieces of public art have been given a face lift thanks to the combined efforts of the town’s Pier and Promenade Association, Withernsea High School and The Big Local.

Since March 2019, a number of colourful characters have adorned the decorative beach huts on North Promenade – adding a splash of jovial colour to the town’s seafront.

However, after two years of weathering due to their exposed location, it became apparent that the figures were in need of a refresh. The services of Withernsea High School’s Art department were subsequently called upon to help bring the characters back to life.

The refurbishment project had been scheduled to start last year, until the onset of the Covid pandemic temporarily brought a halt to the planned work. As restrictions eased, the project was able to resume in the Spring term.

Janine Keith, Teacher of Art at Withernsea High School, led the main renovation of the characters, ably assisted by Year 9 students Lucie Powell and Holly Fullerton. Their combined efforts have led to a reinvigorated set of figures which have now been returned to the promenade for everyone to enjoy.

Mrs Keith commented: ‘I was delighted that we, as a school, were able to help with something that will take such a prominent place in the local community. It has been a lot of work, with each of the main characters taking approximately 16 hours each to complete, but I am extremely pleased with the finished results and I thoroughly enjoyed doing them.

I am grateful for the support and hard work from Lucie and Holly who not only helped to paint some of the figures but also suggested that greater diversity could be reflected in the finished designs.

We hope that the refreshed characters will continue to act as both a focal and talking point for residents and visitors alike.’

Not only have the characters undergone an aesthetic revamp, they have also received enhanced weatherproofing through the use of a special varnish to ensure their increased longevity.

Funding for the materials used in the renovation project came via a bid placed with the Withernsea Big Local (WBL) – a local trust who award funding to projects of benefit to the local area.

Torkel Larsen, a resident member of WBL, commented: ‘The Big Local committee all voted in favour of funding the cost of the refurbishment of the figures, as they have been very popular and were badly in need of a face lift.

We are absolutely delighted with the finished results - the vivid colours and level of detail are very impressive.

I would like to thank Mrs Keith and the students for their time and efforts in helping to bring the characters back to life.’

The refurbishment of the figures is the latest phase of a project that began back in May 2018 to redevelop and tidy unused land owned by EYMS at the rear of their Bannister Street bus depot. Following an approach by the Withernsea Pier and Promenade Association (WPPA) to oversee this work, blessing from EYMS was duly received and work began on clearing the area in August 2018. The first beach hut fronts were installed that September, with the original figures added to the scene in March 2019.

Among their many on-going projects, the long-term goal of the WPPA is to rebuild the Withernsea Pier. The group of volunteers currently run the Pier Towers, which are open every weekend and every day during the summer holidays, with money raised from its shop going directly towards the pier fund.

WPPA also manage other projects that improve the seafront area of Withernsea. Their latest being the Withernsea Weather Wizard at the fishing compound and their next will be a sculpture made of cobbles in the Italian gardens.

ABOVE: The above photo shows, from left to right, Torkel Larsen (resident member of the Withernsea Big Local and Chair of the WPPA), Richard Mabbott (Assistant Headteacher, Withernsea High School) and Janine Keith (Teacher of Art) with some of the refreshed figures.

The figures have been reinstated at the beach hut fronts on North Promenade.
(Photo Credit: Bobbi Hadgraft)