Young artist highlights Sheffield's industrial heritage with large scale mural in Orchard Square

A large-scale piece of artwork depicting Sheffield's industrial heritage is now on display in Orchard Square.

By Alana Roberts
Friday, 6th March 2020, 11:25 am

The 50-footlong masterpiece has been created by freelance illustrator Will Rea, who was given the opportunity after answering an open call to Sheffield-based artists.

He was commissioned by Orchard Square’s owners London and Associate Properties in collaboration with Museums Sheffield for the artwork which aims to celebrate the city’s steel history with a mix of bright and bold colours and features famous industrial machines such as the Bessemer Converter and the River Don Steel Engine.

The former Sheffield Hallam University student says he began painting the mural at the end of October, visiting Orchard Square come rain or shine to complete the work.

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Freelance illustrator Will Rea has created a large scale artwork in Orchard Square in Sheffield.

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He said: “After signing off the design I got in touch with some scaffolders and we ended up getting the whole wall scaffolded for access and then it was just a long process of using undercoat then two layers of top coat to get it to its coloured finish. I was up there with harnesses and a hard hat, it was a real learning curve.

“I used brush applied paints and bit by bit worked my way around Orchard Terrace. The contract started at the end of October and it got finished in March but I think it was about four months of actual work just because we’ve had so much bad weather.

“I’ve been out in the wind, hail, and even in the dark with a headtorch on, so it’s been a big feat but it’s finished now so it is really exciting.”

Freelance illustrator Will Rea has created a large scale artwork in Orchard Square in Sheffield

Will has previously created artwork for places such as the Showroom cinema on Paternoster Row, and Bungalows and Bears on Division Street.

Since completing the new piece, the 22-year-old says he has had lots of positive feedback and is now hoping to extend it to encompass more of Orchard Terrace, bringing the artwork past the right of the two new restaurants - Macpot and Fool’s Gold – which have recently opened.

Will added: “I feel proud and a sense of relief in a way but also I feel excited to have something this big, colourful, and bright to show people.

“We’re in the process of working on extending the mural a little bit further round and we’re also going to renovate the stairwell off Leopold Street because it is a bit dark and dingy at the moment so we want to bring some colour into it.”

Freelance illustrator Will Rea has created a large scale artwork in Orchard Square in Sheffield

You can view Will’s work on his website www.willustration.co.uk or via his Instagram @Willustration_

Freelance illustrator Will Rea has created a large scale artwork in Orchard Square in Sheffield