Redditch Paolozzi mosaics
Paolozzi’s mosaics celebrating Redditch can be found inside the Kingfisher Shopping Centre

One of the Midlands’ most impressive masterpieces doesn’t hang inside a museum or art gallery but can be found, instead, in Redditch town centre. Kingfisher Shopping Centre is home to the Paolozzi Mosaics, a dazzling collection of 12 enormous tile murals, which tell the story of the region’s heritage.

The spotlight is also back on these mosaics thanks to a new project, Reimagine Redditch, which has received £852,000 from the Arts Council England as part of its £38.3m investment in Creative People and Places over three years. The project aims to inject new energy into Redditch’s cultural life through creativity, colour and a new supersized artwork which has been displayed inside the shopping centre, just around the corner from Paolozzi’s pièce de résistance.  

Redditch Paolozzi mosaics
Paolozzi’s modern masterpiece, 100 years since his birth

It was in the 1980s that Pop Art pioneer Sir Eduardo Paolozzi was commissioned to create the Redditch mosaics. Characteristic of his signature style, they reveal the artist’s affinity for collage, vibrant colour, rhythmic lines and abstracted forms. At the same time, they pay tribute to Redditch’s history as a centre for needlework.

Across 12 individual panels, each measuring 21 by 10 feet, Paolozzi sought to create what he called a “multi-evocative metaphor, floating in some cases against woven material, symbolising the uses and results of the needle in its widest sense – a vital tool for the uniting of many substances in both a global and metaphysical sense.”

Paolozzi consulted many sources for the bold colour palette, including the British Museum and the V&A. He considered the shape and the pattern of needle packets, as well as the machinery used in the needle industry. He also included natural imagery such as butterflies and lizards “which might be found in tapestries and fabrics”.

Meanwhile, the inclusion of modern items such as an astronaut, electronic equipment, a camera and spaceship emphasise the contemporary setting and the progression of the town of Redditch. The overall impression is one of pulsating manufacture, progress, and life in technicolour.

Redditch Paolozzi mosaics
The Redditch Colour Palette, inside Kingfisher Shopping Centre

In 2023 Reimagine Redditch, in partnership with Kingfisher Shopping Centre and Redditch BID, commissioned a new technicolour public artwork, which has recently been unveiled. Acting as a contemporary counterpart to Paolozzi’s original artwork, The Redditch Colour Palette is a bold and clever design featuring 6 hues all representative of the region: Arrow Blue, Kingfisher Teal, Needle Steel, Enfield Chrome, Ditch Red and Palace Velvet.

However, in this case the commission was created not by one single artist but by many of the borough’s residents. As Reimagine Redditch’s Programme Director Richard Bromhall has explained, “People want Redditch brightened up, so we commissioned a colour palette which would be identifiably about Redditch, with the colours chosen by Redditch people who are proud of the borough. What we can do is build on that, co-curating a cultural offer with local people”.

Behind the Colour Palette Company and design concept is Stacey Barnfield, an artist and former editor of the Birmingham Post. Passionate about celebrating local culture, he has taken his designs to towns and cities across the country, but is delighted to have collaborated on something closer to home.

On this occasion, he worked with Reimagine Redditch to invite local residents to select colours for a local colour palette, and was blown away by the response, receiving 700 submissions and hundreds of unique ideas, which were then whittled down to a final 12 for a public vote by a panel of local people.

“It was wonderful to get such a huge response through the public vote process that selected the final palette which shows how interested people are in their local heritage, from the industry and culture to its parks. This was absolutely a piece of art and design created by the people of Redditch”, says Barnfield.

He was also inspired by the shopping centre’s original artwork, “I’m a huge fan of Palozzi, whose centenary is this year, and love the Pop art mosaics. Anything we can do to increase interest in public art is a good thing”.

What better place to display this new commission than in a shopping centre? As Bromhall points out, “In Redditch transport can be a barrier, so outdoor art in neighbourhoods is really important. Our remit is to work across the borough – in the town centre, and other areas; nowhere is off the table for us. We want to make art where people are”.

Beyond looking at the new artwork, locals can also get creative themselves. Starting in the summer, Love Woodrow will commission an artist to work with residents in Woodrow to create new public art installations. The project aims to use creativity to bring people together, boost health and wellbeing, enhance local pride in the area, and brighten up Woodrow Centre.

For both local people and those from further afield, it’s well worth a trip to Redditch’s Kingfisher Shopping Centre to see some of the most significant public art in the Midlands, old and new, which tells story of industry, heritage, culture and, above all, colour.

Reimagine Redditch | Creativity and culture for everyone

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