The Royal Leamington Spa colour palette
The artwork is made up of several large colour swatches, each one representing themes relating to the town, which include Arts & Culture, Innovation, Sports & Leisure, Nature and Natural Environment, Entertainment, History, and Community.
“The Royal Leamington Spa Colour Palettes will be a great visual improvement for the gateway into the town. Welcoming visitors and spectators from all over the world during this year’s Commonwealth Games. This piece of public art will showcase what we are proud of in Royal Leamington Spa and provide a fantastic opportunity for the people of the district to be part of this project.”
Members of the public were invited to help shape the development of the Royal Leamington Spa Colour Palette by making suggestions, via an online form and social media, on people, places, objects, and things residents and people who visit and work in the area associate with the town. The artist then turned suggestions into the final artwork.
How was the artist and artwork selected?
Warwick District Council, with the support of Warwick District Creative Compact, worked with Network Rail and Warwickshire County Council to explore various suitable options for creative interventions for the pedestrian tunnel at Leamington Spa Station. Due to the nature of the superstructure, there were a number of significant challenges to overcome. Considerations around safety, security, maintenance, vandalism, cost, return on investment, appropriateness, and overall aesthetic had to be taken into account.
Large wall mounted panels and anti-graffiti vinyl was finally selected as a final solution as it provided not only a safe and clean surface on which to install artwork, but it could be re-used in the future for new pieces of work in the space.
Three options were pitched by officers to Warwick District Council’s Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Project Board, including street art, digitally generated graphics, and the Royal Leamington Spa Colour Palette. It was agreed that the Colour Palette methodology, which had proven successful in Birmingham’s Grand Central, was the best fit due to the community engagement element, which would allow the people who live, work, and visit the area to have a say in the palette’s contents, making the work site specific and relevant to Leamington. It was also agreed that it would help to broaden the mix of wall-based art in the area by providing a different approach and style.
Who is the Artist?
Stacey Barnfield is a Birmingham-based artist, designer and former newspaper editor with a fascination for the heritage and history of the Midlands from a design, typography and ‘place’ perspective. More of Stacey’s work can be seen through the Draw My City artworks project, which encourages people to think of lesser-known places that might not always win architecture awards but are no less important to the people who worked, danced or dined there. Calling on his production journalism skills, Stacey has been commissioned to produce publications in various formats that celebrate architecture and design. Stacey Barnfield said:
“The Colour Palette artworks are all about celebrating local; the areas we grew up in, the people who inspire us, the places we love and the buildings we cherish. It’s wonderful that the Royal Leamington Spa Colour Palettes are being shaped by residents of the town and my thanks go out to everyone who submits a suggestion.”
How was the artwork funded?
It is funded by Warwick District Council and Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which has provided £1.8million for infrastructure improvements ahead of the games. The total cost for the Royal Leamington Spa Colour Palette project will be a little over £30k which includes the printing, production, and installation of the 14 panels and the artists fee.
How were the colours selected?
We received over 300 suggestions from members of the public during the month-long call-out (240 via the survey and over 60 via Social Media channels). The content that features is a combination of the most popular responses and responses chosen by the artist to make a more interesting piece of work.
We must stress that the palettes are not designed to be a comprehensive representation of the town’s illustrious history, but it is intended to be a snapshot of how the respondents to the call-out see Royal Leamington Spa in 2022, and how the artist interprets these as part of his artistic practice.
In some instances, the colour is taken directly from the thing it is referencing. In other instances it is more cryptic, which encourages the viewer to think a little harder about its meaning. If you want to know the inspiration behind each colour, here’s a short guide:
Art and Culture
- Wondrous Blue - Motionhouse is an internationally renowned dance-circus company based in Leamington Spa since 1988, touring thrilling work in the UK and worldwide. ‘Wondrous Blue’ is inspired by their production ‘Wondrous Stories’ which was the opening show of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.
- Pump Rooms Stone - Royal Pump Rooms is home to Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, and hosts arts and cultural activity throughout the year.
- Art in the Park Canvas - Art in the Park is Leamington’s annual free arts festival that showcases live music, dance and theatre.
- Sir Terry’s Yellow - Sir Terry Frost was a British abstract artist, born in Leamington Spa in 1915.
- Loft Crimson - The Loft Theatre Company has produced live theatre in Leamington Spa since 1922.
- Woodbine Vinyl - Woodbine is one of the UK's best and longest established independent studios.
- Joystick Fire - Leamington Spa, and the surrounding areas of Southam and Warwick, is home to a significant gaming cluster, which is one of the largest in the UK. With an established history in game development spanning 30 years, the local area can call upon a uniquely skilled talent pool drawn here by the presence of key industry names including Codemasters, SEGA and Ubisoft.
- Code Red - Leamington Spa is home to a multitude of software companies who provide software technology, distribution, and software product development to businesses and consumers all over the world.
- Range Flame - Aga Rangemaster is the manufacturer of the eponymous cast iron cooker and oven (the AGA Cooker) headquartered in Leamington Spa.
- Military Camo - When the war was declared in 1939 , the Government set up a Directorate of Camouflage as part of the Ministry of Home Security. Its main base was in Royal Leamington Spa. They moved to their new base in early 1940 and set up home in the Regent Hotel.
- Racing Green - Car designer, Derek Gardner designed Tyrell racing cars at his home in Parklands Avenue, Leamington Spa during the 1970’s. Engineer and current chief technical officer of Red Bull racing, Adrian Newey, attended Mid-Warwickshire College of Further Education in Leamington Spa before beginning his Formula One career. And current Team Principal of the Red Bull Formula One team, Christian Horner was born and received his early education in the town.
- Whittle Jet Black - Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, FRAeS (1 June 1907 – 8 August 1996) was an English engineer, inventor and Royal Air Force air officer. He is credited with inventing the turbojet engine. He lived and studied in Leamington Spa.
Sports and Leisure
- Bowling Green - Warwick District Council's Victoria Park Bowling complex hosts the women's and men's national championships.It is the only venue in the world to have hosted 2 Women's World Bowls Championships - in 1996 and 2004. The venue has also hosted many international test matches for men's and women's teams.
- Renshaw Lawn - Born in Leamington Spa, William Charles Renshaw (3 January 1861 – 12 August 1904) was a British tennis player active during the late 19th century, who was ranked world No. 1.
- Randolph Gold - Born in Leamington Spa, Randolph Adolphus Turpin (7 June 1928 – 17 May 1966), better known as Randy Turpin, was a British boxer in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1951 he became world middleweight champion when he defeated Sugar Ray Robinson
- Wisden White - John Wisden, the cricket almanack publisher, who created a cricket ground in Leamington in the 19th century.
- Rowing Blue - The River Leam is popular with people who like to row, canoe, or simply hire a pedalo.
- Real Tennis Claret - Established in 1846, Leamington Tennis Court Club is the oldest purpose built tennis club in the world. Here, the ancient game of real tennis continues to be played alongside squash and billiards. Major Harry Gem, the inventor of the modern game of lawn tennis, was one of many distinguished members in its first 175 years' history. The club's colours are claret and champagne
Nature and the Environment
- Jephson Grass - Jephson Gardens is a beautiful formal Victorian park in the centre of Leamington Spa. It's the perfect place for a relaxing stroll or family picnic. Lots of colourful flowerbeds and interesting sculptures make for a great day out.
- Leam Valley Green - Leam Valley is a nature reserve on the edge of Leamington Spa.
- Spa Water - Leamington Spa owes its fame to its water. The natural spring, drawn from limestone rock 800 feet down, was responsible for the transformation of a tiny village into an elegant, wealthy and prosperous regency town.
- Weir White - The town has two weirs on the River Leam; the Edmondscote Weir and the weir beneath the footbridge in Jephsons Gardens
- Foundry Wood - Foundry Wood is a managed access community woodland. Through volunteer work parties we have made the site accessible by creating paths and facilities for all to use. Now the woodland is open most days for you to enjoy this unique natural environment. Foundry Wood is co-managed by the Friends of Foundry Wood and Achieving Results in Communities (ARC).
- Midlands Oak - The Midland Oak is an oak tree that grows in Leamington Spa, near the Lillington boundary, at the junction of Lillington Road and Lillington Avenue. A plaque nearby unveiled in 1988 states that the old tree, the original centuries old Midland Oak was reputed to mark the centre of England. The present tree was planted about 1988, grown from an acorn saved in 1967 when the old tree, which had died, was cut down.
- Spa Centre Red - The Royal Spa Centre is a Theatre and Cinema in Leamington Spa, England. The Centre was officially opened on 15 June 1972.
- Food Fest Spice - Leamington Food Festival is a hugely popular annual event that takes place once a year in the Pump Room Gardens.
- The Assembly Gold - The Assembly Leamington is a 1,000-capacity live music venue with art deco interior, which presents an eclectic line-up and weekly club nights.
- Lantern Glow - The ‘Leamington Lantern Parade’ started in 2010 is a popular annual event, which attracts over 1,000 families and brings around 3,000 people to the town each year.
- Bandstand Brass - Music has been played in Pump Room Gardens since the 1820s. By 1851 a hexagonal bandstand was shown on a Board of Health map, and in May 1889 a new bandstand, located in a more central position and manufactured by Walter MacFarlane and Co. was opened. The MacFarlane bandstand is one of a very few surviving structures of its type in the country and is a much-loved feature of the gardens.
- Warwick Street Latte - Warwick Street is one of several destinations in the town for food, shopping, and home to many of Leamington Spa’s coffee shops.
- Cundall Brick - John Cundall (1830-1889) was an architect whose designs peppered the town of Leamington Spa. Cundall’s buildings have a distinct air of belonging to the same family. They are mainly unashamedly Gothic or Tudor revival, often without symmetry or a trace of stucco; and what is more, most of them are still standing and well-used.
- Town Hall Red - Leamington Spa Town Hall is a Grade II listed brick building at the bottom of the Parade. It is home to the local MP, Royal Leamington Spa Town Council, The University of Warwick, and Motionhouse. It is currently on a journey to become a Creative Hub, thanks to Future High Street Funding.
- Regency White - The town contains especially fine ensembles of Regency architecture, particularly in parts of the Parade, Clarendon Square and Lansdowne Circus.
- Victoria Lace - Queen Victoria’s impact on the county of Warwickshire was profound. In 1838 she was successfully lobbied for Leamington Spa to use the word ‘Royal’ as a prefix. Moreover, she had visited the town eight years earlier: as Princess Victoria she stayed a night in the Regent Hotel in 1830, before continuing to Malvern. Queen Victoria also visited Leamington in 1858.
- Elephants Grey - Leamington Spa has a long history with elephants, thanks to Sam Lockhart, elephant trainer extraordinaire.
- Satchwell Spring - In 1782, Ben Satchwell with his friend William Abbotts found the second mineral spring in Leamington Priors ( the first had been discovered at least two hundred years earlier, but never exploited) and the Abbotts Original Baths opened a couple of years later in 1784. This coincided with a nineteenth century trend for “taking the waters” and marked the beginning of an influx of visitors to Leamington.
- Gurdwara Gold - Opened in 2009. The Gurdwara Sahib Leamington and Warwick is a Sikh gurdwara located on Tachbrook Drive, Warwick, England. It primarily serves the community around Leamington, Warwick and Kenilworth. It is one of the largest buildings associated with Sikhism in the United Kingdom .
- Church Stone - All Saints is the historic Parish Church for the town and all its people. Built in the Gothic Revival style in the 19th century, it has been described as "one of the largest Church of England parish churches, rivalling many cathedrals in size." It is located in the centre of the town, just south of the River Leam in what was the old core of the town
- Parade Cream - Parade is the central shopping hub of Royal Leamington Spa, and upon it sit many of the town’s high street stores, as well as some of the best examples of Regency architecture, for which the town is known.
- Peace White - The Peace Festival is an eclectic event that occurs in the heart of Leamington Spa once a year. Taking place in the beautiful Pump Room Gardens over two days in June, the Peace Festival aims to promote awareness of world and local issues, fair trade practices and encourages local crafts, artists, traders, organisations and entertainers to share their skills and talk about their causes.
- Pride Pink - Warwickshire Pride is an annual festival that takes place in Leamington Spa. It's a celebration of LGBT+ life and culture. “The original symbol for gay people was a pink triangle. It was initially used to shame gay people, but was reclaimed by many gay and lesbian people. Pink was also on the original Pride rainbow flag and it's a colour in the trans flag. So, pink makes sense to represent the community on the Colour Palette.” - Daniel Browne, Chair of Warwickshire
- Street Art Indigo - Leamington Spa is now famed for its street art. It boasts work from highly respected artists on walls in Old Town and on the canals and waterways, thanks largely to efforts from Brink Contemporary Arts.
Is this a good use of public money?
Absolutely! The space was in urgent need of updating. It is the gateway to our beautiful town, and this new piece of artwork provides not only a talking point but helps signposts visitors the types of things they can expect to discover and see during their visit. We’re proud of our town, and this is a brilliant way of celebrating what it has to offer in an interesting and fun way. The panels can also be used in the future to host different kinds of artworks, so we believe it is an excellent use of public money, which will allow us to curate the space over the coming years.
I don’t agree with some of the inclusions in the palettes.
That’s OK. Art is a brilliant way to encourage discussion and debate and see the world from different views and through different lenses. We encourage you to formulate your own opinions about the work. You might consider designing your own colour palettes and sharing them with us.
Why wasn’t a local artist chosen?
We are fortunate to have many extremely talented artists in the area, but the colour palette concept, which was approved by stakeholders during the planning phase, remains the intellectual property of Stacey Barnfield, who was commissioned to deliver the work. Stacey’s work has received hugely positive feedback in other towns and cities, so we were reassured that the colour palette would be well received by the people who live, work, and visit the area.
How will it be maintained?
Each of the 14 panels are planned to be installed using similar methodology to the existing artwork in situ in the underpass. Existing wooden batons are to be replaced with aluminium batons, and plywood panels with aluminium panels to improve their durability. The panels will be faced with vandal-resistant anti-graffiti vinyl that can also be replaced if damaged in other ways.
Will the pedestrian tunnel get a fresh lick of paint?
Yes. The walls will be repainted as part of the wider on-going maintenance programme. The water staining, which finds its way into the space below from the tracks, is an on-going challenge which is beyond the scope of this project.
What’s happening with the existing artwork in the tunnel?
The existing artwork, produced in partnership with the Friends of Leamington Station, Network Rail and the Community Payback Service and installed in 2012, has been digitally recorded and will be made available here.