Underpass zoo mural
Military Life

Colchester Eyesore Transformed Into Work Of Art

A grotty underpass gets a makeover into a colourful masterpiece at Colchester Garrison

Underpass zoo mural

Art teacher and military spouse, Lolly Stewart-Thomas, took on the challenge to transform a dingy, litter-strewn, graffiti-daubed subway on the Colchester families' patch. 

The DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation) knew the underpass needed a complete makeover, and Stewart-Thomas gave up her summer holiday, alongside a couple of friends, to successfully transform the subway. She said:

"I jumped on board, it's going to be of benefit to everybody. I think it will get people seeing public art differently. They'll understand that a space as grotty as this can actually turn into something quite fun, and a talking point."

Lolly (centre) with fellow artists Paige (left) and Amy
Operation underpass - main artists Paige (left) Lolly and Amy

After more than a month of hard work, the team had replaced the embarrassing graffiti with vivid murals relevant to the whole community - military and civilian.

Anyone who walks through the underpass can now admire exotic versions of the animals at Colchester Zoo, a dramatic reproduction of Colchester Castle, descending paratroopers, marching WW1 soldiers and a reminder that there are beaches a short drive away.

Remembrance poppies have been painted and signed by local people of all ages, a loving tribute keeping the memory alive of those who gave their lives. 

The varnish volunteer crew
The Varnished truth....volunteers protected the murals

A number of  volunteers stepped in to bring the new street art to life and protect it with a coat of graffiti-proof varnish, meaning that the murals will be there for years to come for the people of Colchester to enjoy.  

Remembrance is a poignant theme among the murals, but the artists have made sure that they will be remembered too.