A unique mural by one of the world’s leading street artists in tribute to a legendary British king has been unveiled at Highbridge’s King Alfred School Academy to mark Somerset Day.
An extraordinary historical 30ft King Alfred the Great portrait that mixes history with the modern world has been painted by renowned artist Andrew Burns Colwill.
To celebrate the Great King and to help the students have a better understanding of their school’s namesake, the artwork was unveiled to the school’s 1200 students during a day of educational activities including other artwork, historical re-enactments, assemblies, and competitions.
Artist Andrew Burns Colwill told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The mural is a large image of King Alfred The Great stood and instead of having his sword in the air, he has a paint brush. There are two kids sitting with a pile of books at his feet. Either side, there is a Viking on his left hand side and a Saxon on his right hand side – both looking a little confused and tired with their weapons down to the ground. There’s not one scene where one individual is attacking another – it’s a peaceful image in turbulent times.”
He says it took him nine days to complete, with the assistance of some pupils. “It’s a very big mural and it was well worth the effort.”
Principal Nathan Jenkins said: “King Alfred was rightly called ‘great’ and his legacy should be celebrated through the country. He founded primary school education for example and is responsible for preserving the English language. This is a fitting tribute to him.”
“King Alfred was brave, determined and visionary and our students are very proud of our heritage and history. This artwork is a suitable tribute that everyone could enjoy. The King lived and did his amazing historical feats right in this area.”
“We were thrilled to secure Andy’s support for this project and look forward to seeing the work develop. Andy is keen to share his process and experience with the students, who will have the privilege of seeing him work live.”
To celebrate Somerset Day there was also a student battle of the bands, a Viking re-enactment, a visit by BARB and the RNLI, and visits from St John’s Ambulance, local artists, police and more.
Burnham’s MP James Heappey paid a special visit and added his praise to the school on the event.
And The Voice singer Harrison Larner-Main also called in to perform on the day. He said “Big love to King Alfred School. That was so much fun.”
It will spark art and musical events at the school to involve the whole community and region in the celebration of the great King.
Dennis Rainer, organiser of Somerset Day, added: “I am personally absolutely knocked out by this. It stands up for what we are trying to achieve with Somerset Day, showing what an amazing county it is and to work with young people so they understand what their birth place or where they live and make them feel proud for being here.”
Artist Andy has worked for many years on projects across the country and the globe. He has been painting canvases since he was a child and his artwork has been on the streets of Bristol since the late 1970s as he was one of the original Bristol street artists.
The King is the world patron and ambassador for Somerset and celebrated across the county for Somerset Day each year on 11th May.