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Students bring street art to Cardiff electrical boxes

Illustration students at the University of South Wales (USW) have been brightening up electrical boxes around Cardiff city centre as part of a collaboration with Cardiff Council.

The group of students, who are all in their final year of the BA (Hons) Illustration course, teamed up with the council’s Caretaking Services team to produce street art for the boxes, which often tend to be a target for vandalism, as a way of encouraging communities to take pride in their local areas.

After choosing to theme their designs around colourful animals, Blake McGauley, Chloe Crimmins, Elia Zamora, Samantha Kimber and Faith Holder each chose a different creature to paint onto the boxes, including an octopus, a giraffe, a toucan, a polar bear and many more.

The project was set up by USW’s Employer Engagement and Placements team, as an opportunity for the students to gain experience in working with clients as part of their studies, preparing them for the industry once they graduate.

Blake, who was tasked with painting a box in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay, chose an octopus in a purple, underwater scene to fit in with its surroundings.

He said: “The project was so rewarding to be part of. So many members of the community saw my artwork and came over to comment on it, which was really encouraging and has inspired me to take on further mural projects in the future.

“The most challenging part was painting in some unpredictable weather conditions! But I’ve enjoyed being able to work on my communication and time management skills, while creating something eye-catching for the people of Cardiff to enjoy.”

Chloe, who chose to paint a polar bear onto her box in Cardiff Bay, enjoyed trying to make the mural is lifelike as possible.

She said: “I loved taking something as mundane as an electrical box and transforming it into something that puts a smile on people’s faces – it’s been an incredibly heartwarming experience.

“As students, our work is often contained to our course books, so to have our artwork on display to the public has been amazing. The positive feedback we’ve received has really developed our confidence and made us feel like true artists.”

Elia chose a wildlife theme for her artwork, and painted a giraffe and toucan onto her box.

She said: “This was my first experience of drawing on this scale, and I’m really happy with how the cartoon style, aimed at children, turned out. It’s a great feeling when people enjoy seeing your work and give you lovely feedback.

“I’ve learned so much from this project, and feel grateful to have had this opportunity. I’d love to one day publish some books along with my illustrations. I’m currently working on a dog breed encyclopaedia for children, which I’m hoping to finish after graduation!”