Shirebrook Market Shops

In September 2018, Junction Arts were commissioned by Bolsover Partnership and the Shirebrook Forward NG20 Group to deliver a range of inspirational art and design projects aimed at brightening the centre of Shirebrook market place.

The Shirebrook Market Shops Enlivenment project has brought together partners for many different elements of the project. They are; Junction Arts, Zantium Studios, Thread Architects, Shutter Media, University of Sheffield, Bolsover Partnership, Shirebrook Academy as well as retailers and community members.
Watch our film by filmmaker Chris Bevan to find out about the journey of the project:


Shirebrook Market Place is thought to be one of the largest market squares in the country and is locally celebrated for its presence of independent traders. Based on data from March 2020, national chains only make up 8% of the Market Place, quite unique now compared to nearby local high streets. A considerable 91% of the market shops are protected and secured at night with perforated shutters to safeguard premises from anti-social behaviour and many of the shutters and existing shopfronts are in poor condition, resulting in a disconnect between community and place.

Objectives of the project

Building community pride

Improving perceptions of the area and developing a stronger identity and connections between people and place

Community Engagement

Ideas and improvements that are created and shaped by local people

Safe and welcoming spaces

Creating a bright, lively and attractive Market Square, in which residents and visitors feel welcome

Design Development

Workshops with students at Shirebrook Academy, community consultation and retailer engagement explored what the market square means to people. Through face-to-face engagement we also gathered ideas for designs, how the shop frontages could be improved and heard about the hey-day of the market square and hope for its future.

We also had a couple of sessions lead by the University of Sheffield who brought along a 3D model of the Market place, young people could experience and walk around this using VR technology. Throughout the sessions we used the VR exercise to ask the community what shops they go to and what was needed to make them visit the market more often. We also tracked people’s eye lines and what they look at in the square.

The final designs by Peter Massey of Zantium Studios came from lino cut pieces made by Shirebrook Academy Year 10 arts and graphic students. Initially, the students explored designs inspired by pictures of old signage, advertising and packaging or they used contemporary techniques such as paper cutting, pop-art and collage to create uplifting and positive text-based designs and vibrant patterning. We also worked with the students to interview local shopkeepers on what is special about the Market place and why independent trade is important.

Final Designs: A Refined Aesthetic

We soon realised that the designs couldn’t be too intricate or incorporate too much text due to the perforations of the shutters and how the vinyl are printed as individual pieces for each shutter slat.
We wanted the shutter artworks to celebrate the long history of retail in the Market place, encourage increased use of the shops today and support their survival in the future. Each of the 14 designs that were chosen possess a story that connects the artwork back to our community.

Engagement of Shopkeepers and Installation

Part of Junction Arts’ role was to promote the project and its aims to local retailers, offering the installation of the artworks fully funded, thanks to the Building Resilience Programme funding through the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Shutter Media have worked with us alongside Bolsover Partnership’s Shopfront Repair Grant Scheme, to carefully adapt each design, chosen by the retailer, to complement the visual improvements needed for each property.

Here are some images of the final designs.