Free High Street Exploration Sketching Day with Bedford Urban Sketchers

Join artists Katy Hawkins and Talia Giles with Bedford Urban Sketchers on an interactive drawing day around Bedford High Street on Saturday 18th September from 10am to 4pm to explore how the high street is changing.


The event is free and for all ages and drawing skill levels.

Using High Street Exploration cards as prompts, set off on your own journey to discover and draw your surroundings.  This might include looking up and drawing the tops of buildings or capturing hidden details normally missed by busy passers-by.

Working alongside Bedford Urban Sketchers, who regularly draw urban and green spaces, experience the joy of outdoor ‘urban sketching’ and see the town centre from a whole new perspective. It’s an opportunity to pause and consider the high street’s role as the beating heart of the local community and appreciate how it has changed and adapted to our times and needs.

Materials for sketching will be provided, but if you sketch regularly, you are encouraged to bring your own drawing/painting materials and drawing board.  A3 project paper will be provided for everyone.  The event will be going ahead whatever the weather as sketchers will use shop fronts and café window seating.

There are two meeting points where you can chat to Talia Giles or Katy Hawkins, choose your high street exploration prompt card, and collect your A3 paper and board:

Meeting Hub 1: Half Moon Faces sculpture, Silver Street, Bedford, MK40 1SU

Meeting Hub 2: Riverside Square, Bedford, MK40 1AS

Ellen Harrison, Head of Creative Programmes and Campaigns at Historic England, said: The High Street Exploration Sketching Day is a fabulous opportunity for Bedford residents to creatively capture their own unique impression of the local high street. I’m really looking forward to seeing what sparks people’s imagination.”

 Artist Katy Hawkins said: “It's great to be partnering with Talia and Bedford Urban Sketchers on this event! Urban sketching is such a great example of the opportunities a high street and a dynamic urban realm can offer: opportunities to be inspired and be creative.  We feel the cards work well as creative prompts or briefs, to invite a certain way of looking or focus to hopefully see and capture something you might not normally.”

Artist and producer Talia Giles said: “This event couldn’t have come at a better time – society’s notion of the ‘high street’ has to evolve in order for communities to realise that town centres are just as integral to our way of life, and social interaction as they once were, but without the familiarity of high street chains. Pausing, and taking the time to draw in situ, will help people re-engage with their public spaces and services, and visitors will hopefully notice that Bedford town centre is going through an incredible metamorphosis and is fit to bursting with new life.”

Councillor Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centre and Planning, said: “It is great to welcome the High Street Exploration Sketching Day to Bedford Borough. This is yet another opportunity to get involved in our High Street Heritage Action Zone and whether you’re an expert artist or a beginner, the project is a great way to get involved and try something new, while considering the importance of the town centre to our local community.”

Bedford High Street Explorations

The Bedford High Street Explorations project is part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone and is being run in partnership with the HAZ Cultural Workgroup and Bedford Borough Council.

Artists Katy Hawkins and Ellie Shipman connected with local communities to discover stories, features and uses of Bedford High Street, in order to make visible and share more widely some of the things that people like and appreciate about the place.

The Bedford High Street Exploration Cards have been designed to promote urban exploration, reflection and adventure. An illustrated map highlights some of Bedford’s many historic moments, present day curiosities and questions about its future. Together, they encourage visitors and residents to take a new journey of discovery around familiar spaces.

To find out what is happening in your area and get involved, please follow @HistoricEngland /@HE_EoE #HistoricHighStreets #HighStreetsTwinTowns and visit:

High Street Explorations is a nationally commissioned project by Historic England to support the Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone, a four-year programme of investment for local communities and visitors. The Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone aims to make the high street a more attractive place for communities to live, work and enjoy leisure activities.

It is one of six Twin Towns commissions that are part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Cultural Programme aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time.





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