Facelift planned soon for Axminster eyesore

Fears that artwork could be vandalised are dismissed as ‘negative vibes’ - it’s a fantastic scheme says mayor

AXMINSTER’S biggest town centre eyesore finally looks set to get a much-needed facelift.

A community art installation to transform the front of the former Webster’s Garage – which closed more than three decades ago - could get under way by early in the new year.

Professional artist Steve Fisher has designed the colourful hoarding which features scenes of the town, its ancient past, famous citizens and historic church.

Half the �5,000 cost has already been raised by scheme co-ordinators, Axminster Arts and the town’s community enterprise group, who are confident they can quickly find the rest.

The project generally got an enthusiastic welcome from town councillors at their meeting on Monday – although there was some concern that the owners of the long-derelict property were not taking their share of the burden.

“I think they are getting off scot free,” said Paul Hayward. “The town is paying for this cosmetic tarting up exercise which the developer will get the benefit of. It is like them sticking two fingers up…they need to have some shame heaped upon them.”

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And Sue Spiller said members of the public had given her a list of worries about the project.

Some feared the artwork could become a target for vandalism and there was concern that pieces could fall and injure someone.

“Who would insure it?” she asked.

And would it discourage the owner of the site from getting on with a full redevelopment scheme?

But Mayor Andrew Moulding dismissed the concerns and said it was a ”fantastic scheme” which should be encouraged.

Although no longer a school project he said children could still help create the artwork and he felt the final hoarding would actually reduce the possibility of vandalism.

“It will demonstrate our commitment to public art and historic Axminster – it will be a tremendous piece of work when finished,” he said.

Graham Godbeer said it was very sad to hear the “negative vibes” – the site had been vacant for more than 30 years and they should welcome this positive step.

“We don’t want this to be an excuse for the owners to sit back but it may actually put more pressure on them,” he added.

* A 3-D model of the art installation is available to view in the Arts Caf� until November 5, along with a visitors book for suggestions.

Project Co-ordinator Tim Leat said once the hoarding was put up, the artwork would be outlined on it for the community to colour in – like a giant painting by numbers board. Finally it will be varnished and weather-proofed to give it a long life.

To donate funds to the Webster’s art project call Mr Leat on (01297) 35187 (evenings) or (01404) 812228 (day) or e mail Norrlett@aol.com