New Purley station art commemorating inspirational people unveiled

A stunning new art project highlighting three important Croydon historical figures has just been completed at Purley train station.

The giant 3×2 metre artworks were commissioned by Purley Business Improvement District (BID) and were made by Purley artist Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, Dan Cimmermann, and Croydon-based artist Morgan Davy.

The works on platform six at Purley station feature Amy Johnson, who in 1930 flew from Croydon airport to become the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor the 19th Century composer who was brought up in Croydon, and civil engineer William Jessop, who was behind the Surrey Iron Railway that linked Wandsworth and Croydon via Mitcham.

Purley station art on display, William Jessop
INNOVATE: Civil Engineer William Jessop.
Credit: Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison

Zuchowski-Morrison said: “I live literally a stone’s throw away from the station so it’s so nice to do something for my home really.

“It had to be really relevant to local people and to local history. We can see so often with public art that it can be irrelevant to local communities and can be too conceptual or abstract.

“We wanted them to look hand-painted, like an artwork and not just a poster. We wanted it to look traditional and have a contemporary feel as well, and the monochromatic look makes it feel like they’ve always been part of the station.

“The idea was to pick a mixture of people, one to inspire the creative side, one to inspire innovation through technical feats, and the other to be someone who was pioneering and daring.

“We talk often about Croydon being very well known musically, you look at today’s artists like Stormzy and Nadia Rose and all these MOBO winners, we’ve got dubstep too, but we’ve also got a much further back heritage as well, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was that guy, I like the idea that we’ve been synonymous with music for so long.

“The idea, later on, once the pandemic is over, is to invite some local school classes and do a presentation about each of these characters, and talk about what’s their relevance now which I think would be a really lovely gift to the local schools to inspire some young minds.

“These people have such strong messages for now; we are always going to need innovators and creators and people that are daring and want to do firsts, there’s always new and exciting things to be done.”

Purley station art on display, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
INSPIRE: Composer Samuel Colderidge-Taylor.
Credit: Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison

Simon Cripps, Purley BID CEO said: “We need to help ourselves by making the town look better, particularly with Croydon Council and the position they’re in at the moment.

“This is money that the business have put up themselves and it seems to be the projects that have a visual impact like cleaning, hanging baskets, and art projects that have the most engagement. 

“At the moment the vast majority of our time is spent supporting businesses, getting their COVID grants and making sure they stay a float, but we’ve also got to make sure the environment is right for when we can open up again.

“Anything we can do to have a positive response in these times of darkness is great.”

Purley station art on display, Amy Johnson
PIONEER: Aviator Amy Johnson. Image credit: Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison

BIDs run for 5 years and are voted in by the businesses in the area, they must receive both over 50% of the votes from individual businesses and votes from more than 50% of the rateable value of the businesses. 

Purley BID received 96% of the votes to continue from the latest vote in December 2020, and is funded by a 1.5% levy on the current business rates.

Feature image credit: Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison

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