Pupils at Appleby Primary School have been thrilled to develop their creative talents as part of an exciting project celebrating cultural heritage and the town’s long association with the Gypsy and Traveller community.
Children from Years 4, 5 and 6 worked with local artist Karen Babayan in collaboration with police community support officer Sally Ewbank and volunteer Shirley Simpson on a project commissioned by Cumbria Police in Appleby.
The Appleby Horse Fair is an annual gathering of Gypsies and Travellers which has historically taken place in the town of Appleby in Westmorland each year in the first week in June, though has been rescheduled this year to take place in August. Appleby Horse Fair is unique in Europe and, as well as attracting around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers; over 30,000 visitors can flock to town to soak up the atmosphere and watch horses washed in the river Eden on Appleby’s Sands.
To ensure the safety of horses, fair-goers and visitors, the town of Appleby is transformed with extensive crowd barriers to protect pedestrians. When visitors attend the New Fair this August they will be treated to a series of striking panels over 16 meters in length, produced by pupils at Appleby Primary School alongside Karen and her creative team.
Pupils learned about the history of the fair, Gypsy and Traveller traditions as well as the work of the Multi Agency Strategic Co-ordination Group who organise the annual event. This learning inspired the children’s mural which has been created in relief print and collage. The image is a stylised representation of the event in the town, incorporating the images of bow top caravans, sulkies and bathing horses synonymous with the Fair. The piece will be enlarged and printed by Ast Signs of Penrith to create a large statement piece to be displayed on Bongate, opposite the Royal Oak Inn, throughout the fair.
Karen Babayan, who worked with the Appleby pupils said: “Creating this important work for the town took thorough planning, meticulous preparation and three days of intensive workshops where each and every pupil contributed. The result is stunning. I am indebted to my creative team who worked incredibly hard to support the children in creating a beautiful piece of work. We are also grateful to Appleby Town Council and Westmorland Arts Trust (Cumbria Community Foundation) for their financial support of this project. The panels will last a number of years, installed during each New Fair for our community and visitors to enjoy.”