Selected by a panel of young people, Mark Titchner is working across Wigan, Burnley and Hull to create artworks for public spaces that aim to express the opinions of the young community through alternative advertising. Mark often creates public artwork using language, which he describes as a ‘fundamental tool for communication’. Mark was chosen because the panel liked his idea to allow them to make all of their own decisions when it came to commissioning artworks.

The workshop, held in Burnley library, began with the group of young people aged between 15-23 creating alternative maps of Burnley that identified places of personal interest. For some, Thompson Park held fond memories, and for others like Sarfraz Mahmood (23yrs), Burnley Manchester Road train station was exciting and full of possibilities. This workshop showed the uniqueness of each individual in that particular places can be deeply personal to different people and this showed Burnley’s identity through the eyes of its young community. The activity finished with each member of the group contributing their own place of personal importance on to a large map of Burnley and explaining why it was significant to them. This map was used to plan a route which the group would walk through Burnley.

After a presentation from Mark Titchner on unusual interpretations of artwork in the public realm, the group set out on a walking tour of Burnley, looking for opportunistic areas where artwork could be displayed. The group visited the high street, Burnley Mechanics, Cow Lane and Thompson Park – all places of regular public use – armed with the knowledge of what makes a place a public space and what sort of art may be best in the space. The walk gave the group a better feel for the town; they could imagine where artwork could be installed or how it could be distributed, such as on billboards, buses or T-shirts.

Afterwards, Mark led another activity: subverting advertising through the use of collage, which involved cutting out words, images and slogans from newspapers and magazines and rearranging them to form new phrases and meanings.

Naomi (17yrs), said that the day was “good fun”, and thinks that when it comes to creating public artwork, “something interactive might be useful”, so that the people of Burnley don’t assume the work is ‘just another piece of art’ rather than something that’s come straight from the heart of its community. Jasper Howard (20yrs) simply enjoyed having interesting conversations with the artist, which is a great opportunity for him before he embarks on an art foundation course.

Imogen (17yrs), said she thinks “the project might be made up of little things, but overall it will have a big impact”, resonating with the idea that the strength of the community is what counts and that art doesn’t necessarily have to be large to be seen. In a similar fashion, Billie (15yrs) said she likes that the ideas are “from different places”, showing that group work can display a range of skills and ways of thinking from different people.

Mark Titchner will continue working with the young people of Burnley, Wigan and Hull (via a series of workshops over the next months) leading up to the production of artworks in public spaces across the three towns. What’s exciting is the potential of this project: it could become anything, from a billboard for everyone to see, to a series of bookmarks scattered about, hidden but always there. The young people of the north have the autonomy to decide what they want, and means to achieve it.

Want to get involved? Email for more information. Check out the programme of upcoming events here.