The Warwick Colour Palette

Warwick colour palette header

The Warwick Colour Palette is a new piece of public art by Stacey Barnfield at Warwick train station.

The artwork is made up of several large colour swatches (see below); Each colour represents something that people who live, work, or visit the town suggested was synonymous with Warwick

How was the artist and artwork selected?

Following the success of the Royal Leamington Spa Colour Palette project, Warwick District Council, with the support of Warwick District Creative Compact, worked with Network Rail and Chiltern Railways to bring a similar piece of work to Warwick Station.

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?

Warwick Colour Palette 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 Warwick Colour Palette project will be a little over xxx which includes the printing, production, and installation of the 7 panels and the artist’s fee.

How were the colours selected?

We received over 250 suggestions from members of the public during the month-long call-out (200 via the survey and over 50 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 Warwick 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: 

Warwick palette 1

  • Dungeon Shadow -  Caesar's and Guy's Towers at Warwick Castle are residential and may have been inspired by French models (for example Bricquebec). Both towers are machicolated and Caesar's Tower features a unique double parapet. The two towers are also vaulted in stone on every storey. Caesar's Tower contained a grim basement dungeon; according to local legend dating back to at least 1644 it is also known as Poitiers Tower, either because prisoners from the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 may have been imprisoned there, or because the ransoms raised from the battle helped to pay for its construction. [Source]
  • Sir Guy’s Sword Steel - The Guy of Warwick sword reputedly belonged to the legendary Guy of Warwick who is said to have lived in the 10th century. Guy of Warwick's most successful feat was the defeat of the Danish giant Colbran to save the English Crown for King Athelstan, who reigned from 925 to 940 when Guy of Warwick used this sword. [Source]
  • Kingmaker Velvet - Warwick ‘the Kingmaker’ was a nobleman, a military commander in the Wars of the Roses and an influential politician who would by stealth, cunning and daring be in virtual control of the country for many years until his death at the Battle of Barnet in April 1471.He was born Richard Neville on 22nd November 1428, the eldest son of the 5th Earl of Salisbury. He later acquired the title 16th Earl of Warwick through his advantageous marriage to Lady Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick, daughter of Richard Beauchamp, the 13th Earl of Warwick. [Source]
  • Tudor Timber - There are many timber-framed houses in Warwick, ranging from Lord Leycester Hospital to the Tudor House Hotel.

Warwick palette 2

  • Lord Leycester Limewash - The Lord Leycester Hospital is one of the most important and intact medieval buildings in England and is a charity supporting ex-servicemen. The Grade I listed building is located next to the West Gate, on High Street.
  • Bear and Staff White - The Bear and Ragged Staff is a heraldic emblem or badge associated with the Earldom of Warwick. The Ragged Staff is believed to refer to Morvidus, an early legendary Earl of Warwick who is said to have slain a giant "with a young ash tree torn up by the roots." [Source]
  • Greville Yellow - Charles Greville was the 7th Earl of Warwick. Yellow features prominently in the Arms of Greville, Earls of Warwick, which is a sable on a cross engrailed or five pellets. [source]
  • Leet Ale Amber Warwick Court Leet, or as it is formally known “The Court Leet of the Worshipful Town Mayor and Chief Burgesses of Warwick”, was founded in 1554 and consists of a Jury of 12 Burgesses (upright citizens) plus 12 assistants, to aid the Steward (the Town Clerk) and the Town Council in the running of the town of Warwick. A town’s Ale Taster is an Office of the Court Leet, and it is their job to ensure that the supply of ale throughout Warwick is of sufficient quantity and quality to meet the needs of Warwick’s residents.

Warwick palette 3

  • Priory Oak - Opened in 1953, Priory Park is named after the Priory of St Sepulchre which was built on the site in the 12th Century. After the dissolution of the monasteries, a large stately home called ‘The Priory’ was constructed. It sat in forty acres of parkland until the 1920s, when it was shipped to Virginia, USA. Little evidence of the building remains above ground today but the park is a Scheduled Ancient Monument because of its fascinating history. Today, Priory Park offers natural open space with meadow and woodland walks; perfect for getting away from it all. The park has a number of specimen trees, including oaks that are hundreds of years old. It is rich in flora and fauna and is managed for its wildlife and biodiversity
  • St Nicholas Grass - Originally a meadow, St Nicholas Park in Warwick was laid out in the 1930s. Formal gardens and a Children’s Corner were created. After the Second World War, the ground to the east was laid out as playing fields. Later, the leisure centre replaced outdoor swimming pools in the park. The cottages near the main car park were once a watermill.
  • Mill Gardens Leaf - At the end of Mill Street, famous for its 15th and 16th century buildings, is where you will find the Mill Garden; renowned for the quality of its planting and breathtaking position on the banks of the River Avon, lying beneath the walls of Warwick Castle.
  • Hill Close Glass Hill Close Gardens is a rare survival of Victorian gardens once used by townsfolk living above their business to escape from the crowded town, now lovingly restored and nationally recognised. 

Warwick palette 4

  • Ethelfleda’s Armour - Queen Ethelfleda, or Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, was the daughter of the Anglo-Saxon king, Alfred the Great. At the time of her birth in the late ninth century, England was composed of several kingdoms and was under attack from the Vikings, whose successful campaigns were demonstrated by their conquest of substantial territory to the north and east of Warwickshire known as Danelaw. Ethelfleda is famed for ruling the English Kingdom of Mercia for 34 years and leading its army to victory against the Danes. After the death of her husband, Ethelred, Lord of Mercia, who had driven the Vikings out of part of Mercia, Ethelfleda became the Lady of the Mercians and was accepted as ruler. Alongside her brother Edward, she set about establishing ‘burhs’, or fortified settlements to consolidate the defence of English territory and provide bases for attacks on Danelaw settlements. In 914, what we now know as Warwick was chosen as one of these burhs and was established on a hilltop site. 2014 marked the 1100th anniversary of the founding of this settlement.
  • Turret Taupe -Turrets are a small tower that projects vertically from the wall of a building such as a medieval castle. They feature in architecture across the town, most notably at Warwick Castle. Turrets were used to provide a projecting defensive position allowing covering fire to the adjacent wall in the days of military fortification.

Warwick palette 5

  • Smith Street Brass - Smith Street is one of Warwick’s oldest shopping destinations, historically named because of the Smith trades operating here, which supplied the castle with its metal work.
  • Market Apple - Warwick Market is a great opportunity to shop in a vibrant open-air setting, surrounded by many independent shops & cafes. On our Market, you will find variety and value, sold by new and experienced traders. You'll find stalls selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, plants and cut flowers, to fresh baking, fish and clothing, to gifts, & food specialities.
  • Racecourse Turf - Warwick Racecourse is a horse racing course in Warwick. It is a National Hunt racing course and has a programme of 25 meetings throughout the year, many of which are televised. The first stand was built in 1808, and its most recent redevelopment was completed in 2018.
  • Military Camo - The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum, The Museum of The Queen’s Royal Hussars, and the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum are all based in the town.

Warwick palette 6

  • Peacock Teal - Designed by Robert Marnock in the mid to late 19th century, The Peacock Gardens are named for the magnificent birds that reside there. The gardens showcase sculptured topiaries, manicured hedges, and centrepiece fountain, as well as stunning views across the Pageant Fields.
  • Healey Green - In 1946 Donald Healey set up his own Motor Company in Warwick, UK, to design and produce sporting cars. The company designed their own chassis and suspension which were fitted with the Riley gearboxes, axles and 2443cc 4 cylinder engine producing 106BHP. The cars produced during this period are generally referred to as Warwick. Healeys, but are also known as pre-Austin or pre-BMC. Read more.
  • Mop Candy - Warwick Mop Fair began when King Edward III granted a legal charter that it be held in the town centre, at a time when the stone version of the castle was being built and before Lord Leycester was even born let alone building hospitals. Many significant towns in the area have similar charters including Stratford upon Avon, Southam, Banbury, Tewksbury, Alcester, Evesham, Abingdon and so on. Each year these towns have fairground attractions in their town centres and surrounding streets. Warwick Mop is held every year on the Friday and Saturday following the 12th day of October, with the ‘Runaway Mop’ held the following Friday and Saturday. The 12th is the date for calculating when many of the local mop fairs happen. It is believed to be linked to a date the harvesting was completed, in olden days. Stratford’s Mop is held on the 12th, Southam the Monday after the 12th and so on. Read more.
  • Swan Feather - Many swans call Warwick their home, and many can be found on the River Avon, Kingfisher Pool, and Grand Union canal in the town.

Warwick palette 7

  • Northgate Stone - Northgate, Warwick, is major restoration and creation of eighteen elegant houses in this landmark, quintessentially English location. It sits near to Northgate House.
  • St Mary’s Skies - The Collegiate Church of St Mary is a Church of England parish church in Warwick. It is in the centre of the town just east of the Market Place. It is Grade I listed, and a member of the Major Churches Network. The church has the status of collegiate church as it had a college of secular canons. St Mary’s Church dominates the town’s skyline.
  • Hospital Blue - Warwick Hospital on Lakin Road in the northwest of Warwick, is run by South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Avon Water - The River Avon in central England flows generally southwestwards and is a major left-bank tributary of the River Severn, of which it is the easternmost. It is also known as the Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare's Avon, to distinguish it from several other rivers of the same name in the United Kingdom.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a good use of public money?

Absolutely! The station 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 of the Royal Leamington Spa Colour Palette project, 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 7 panels are planned to be installed on to existing railings using tamperproof brackets, a similar methodology to other signage in the public realm. The panels will be faced with vandal-resistant anti-graffiti vinyl that can also be replaced if damaged in other ways.