Acton Unframed and the art of a great community project

Artists, businesses and the local community have come together to launch Acton Unframed – an ambitious grassroots project to bring world-renowned street artists to W3. After a successful crowdfunding campaign with the help of Ealing Council’s Transform your Space (TyS) initiative, this teamwork is more than paying off.

Acton Unframed is creating five large murals, the first of which has already been completed by the international artist Fin DAC on the Myrtle Road corner of Churchfield Road. The other pieces will be completed by next summer, and all the artists involved are being asked to draw inspiration from Acton’s local history and its diverse community.

The project is headed up by residents Kal Di Paola, Jewel Goodby and James Goodby alongside the West London Art Factory. For Kal the partnership between the local community played a crucial role in the project so far.

Kal says: “Acton Unframed came about almost by accident, I was doing a project to try and help small businesses in the local area around Churchfield Road looking for ways to reach a wider audience and help our long term aims of encouraging more local buying and more people visiting Acton.

“Jewel and I came together on this project after she told me about a similar project she’d tried to launch in South Acton, 5 years earlier, that hadn’t been successful due to lack of funding.

“I have a social media background and Jewel came to me to ask for help to secure a wall and some funding for the artist Fin DAC. We spoke to local businesses and realising there was a great deal of support for it, we decided to launch a 5 mural project instead.”

“We began looking for space in Acton to showcase art and spoke to businesses before realising that there was a real appetite for a larger project. Starting a something like this from scratch can be difficult but once we built up a partnership around the project it really began to take shape.”

Ealing Council’s TyS initiative helps local people shape underused spaces in their neighbourhood into community assets that everyone can be proud of.

It works by putting residents in charge of shaping initiatives from derelict sites and play spaces to community gardens and food growing projects – and successful applications can benefit from support, guidance and funding from the council.

“We knew we needed to crowdfund and did some research before putting the project proposal together in a couple of weeks,” said Kal. “There were commitments from local organisations to help vital components – and of course TyS supported us once we had the initial community backing and could show that we would be an ideal project.”

Creating a space which the entire community can enjoy requires collaboration – and a large part is about getting help and support from others in the local area, as Kal explains: “The key is having community support – you need a good team and we had one that contributed in a lot of different ways – organisationally, creatively and with the administration.

“If anyone else is planning a community project I’d say a really important thing is to build partnerships – whether that’s in the local community or across small businesses that might share a common goal.”

For Kal and Jewel, the hard work to help build Acton Unframed continues, but the local area is already seeing the benefits of such a bright and colourful community project.

“It’s not just about beautifying the area, art has a way of bringing people together,” says Jewel. 

“All in all it has brought a lot of positivity to the area. During the week that Fin Dac was painting, so many people stopped, people who previously had walked past each other in the street were not stopping to chat and admire the work being done.”