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Openreach Replace Graffiti on Sheffield UK Street Cabinets with Art

Thursday, March 21st, 2019 (7:40 am) - Score 2,565
canvas wrap on openreach street cabinet

Sadly a fair few of Openreach’s (BT) green broadband and phone street cabinets in Sheffield (England) are “often targeted with graffiti.” In response the operator has joined with the Kelham Island and Neepsend Community Alliance (KINCA) to turn a number of them into “works of art” instead. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The act of disguising street cabinets by painting them a different colour or wrapping them in a special vinyl-based pattern or picture (i.e. usually, but not always, intended to match their surroundings) is uncommon but has been used a number of times before (most recently by Virgin Media). As printing and paint technology has improved then so too have the designs.

So far some 8 of the operators PCP and FTTC broadband cabinets in the Kelham Island area of Sheffield have been “painted” with designs based upon the local steel industry, Kelham floods, Ladybower reservoir and landscapes of industrial Kelham. All of these will now form part of an art and heritage trail.

Improvement or eyesore? Works of art are always a matter of personal opinion and graffiti can sometimes also be considered a work of art, although Openreach claims “local experience shows that turning the cabinets into works of art discourages such anti-social behaviour.”

Craig Wolstenholme, KINCA Organiser, said:

“Our vision for the Kelham Island Arts and Heritage Trail is to create an area full of creative and colourful community artwork reflecting the area’s nature, heritage, industry and culture. Openreach have been very supportive and granted our team of professional artists from the Kelham Island Arts Collective permission to paint the cabinets.

The same artists have also created a series of large wall murals in the area which has helped to not only cover up graffiti but also liven up and brighten the road. This has all helped to foster a sense of respect and pride amongst the local community. Our team are also keen to eventually develop this into an educational community arts project.”

Robert Thorburn, Openreach Partnership Director (North of England), said:

“These designs are quite amazing and the artists producing them are incredibly talented. We’re delighted to be part of such a worthwhile project and hope the artwork is enjoyed by people living and working in the local area.

It’s great to see our infrastructure having a dual purpose. As well as brightening up the daily lives of people in Kelham Island, it is also key in making faster broadband speeds available to homes and businesses nearby. Across the Sheffield city region, around 97 per cent of premises can already order superfast broadband, with speeds of up to 80Mbps widely available.”

We have found some more examples of the new paintings below (seemingly on some none-Openreach cabinets too) and apparently KINCA are seeking further sponsors in the hope of covering the remaining cabinets in their area.

sheffield canvas covered street cabinets

NOTE: Openreach’s UK broadband ISP and phone network is home to 100,000 street cabinets and around 5,500 exchanges.

Seeing as it’s art, we have to ask..

What do people think of these new cabinet paintings?

  • LIKE: They're better than cabinets with graffiti! (86%, 120 Votes)
  • DISLIKE: Maybe they discourage graffiti because the perpetrators look at them and wonder, "Well.. somebody has already ruined this one so I'm off to KFC instead!" (14%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 139

Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Avatar I Spy

    I’m sure those are VM cabinets shown in the last pic. You can even see the chamber marked ‘CATV’ in front of the middle cabinet.

  2. Avatar Neb

    How much does it cost for the print and wrap (design excluded) for each of these cabs?

  3. Avatar Jigsy

    As much as I like artwork, this is money that could have been better spent on upgrading the infrastructure.

  4. Avatar patrick

    Local artists have been painting the green boxes in kelham island for years this is old news

  5. Avatar fibreless

    How do we get our local cabinet wrapped?

  6. Avatar John Wilkinson

    Just to clarify a couple of points. These are paintings, not wraps, brush or palette knife applied acrylic paints directly onto the cabinets. They are not paid for by Openreach or Virgin Media, they are paid for through sponsorship by local businesses.

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