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A famous-but-forgotten female artist from Wakefield will be immortalised with a new city centre walking trail.

Boards have been installed across the city centre displaying Louisa Fennell’s original paintings which act as portals into Wakefield’s past, showing what the buildings looked like more than 100 years ago.

Despite her trailing a blaze through the art world, which was male-dominated at the time, Louisa’s talent had been lost in time until Dream Time Creative launched a bid to bring her back into focus.

Thanks to support from Trinity Walk shopping centre, Wakefield Council and Wakefield Civic Society, Dream Time Creative were able to commission a major project to design and create the trail which they hope will encourage more visitors and schools to explore as part of Wakefield’s Year of Walking 2019 and in years to come.

A guide showing visitors a full map of the trail including locations of each board is now in display at Trinity Walk shopping centre, which acts as a starting point. Locations of all the paintings on the trail can be found here:

Louisa’s paintings of Wakefield were created between 1898 and 1904 and the boards have been located close to the spot which they depict, showing the changes between then and modern day Wakefield – and things which have remained the same.

Sarah Leah Cobham, CEO of Dream Time Creative, said: “It's incredibly fulfilling to see Louisa's paintings on our streets as it highlights our 'You cannot be what you cannot see' approach which, combined with our Blue Plaque parity scheme, places women's achievements at the front and centre of our cultural landscape. Louisa Fennell as an artist and a woman, has gifted us a powerful and inspirational legacy which continues to inspire the hundreds of women who engage in our creative projects so I am delighted that her art and her voice is now accessible to everyone.”

Cormac Hamilton, Centre Manager of Trinity Walk, said: “We love being part of Wakefield and that includes bringing its creative past to life by working with passionate people like Sarah and everyone else involved. There’s so much that’s still to discover in the city and by supporting this new trail, we can encourage more people to visit. What we also really liked was creating a walking route around the city, which will not only highlight these remarkable women but also the fantastic streetscape whilst promoting walking with all the health benefits that brings.”

Cllr Jacquie Speight, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Wakefield Council are proud to support the Louisa Fennell trail, which not only celebrates one of our city’s most inspirational women but embraces the district’s history and heritage. The trail is a fantastic opportunity for residents and families to increase their daily steps whilst learning about an important woman in Wakefield’s history.”

Kevin Trickett MBE, President of Wakefield Civic Society, added: “This has been a fascinating project to work on – trying to identify the exact locations where Louisa Fennell might have stood to do her preliminary sketches and then working out which would be the best locations for the new panels to go wasn’t quite as straightforward as it might seem. My job also included contacting the current owners of the selected properties to seek their permission to put the panels up and I am very grateful to all the owners and their agents who co-operated with us to make the project such a success.”

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