A FOOTPATH in Shepton Mallet has seen unique new artwork installed, inspired by the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Somerset Council collaborated with a local artist for the project, which aims to highlight the importance of active travel during the pandemic.

The 'multi-user' path is now adorned with several bronze plaques depicting different forms of active travel, including walking, cycling and horse riding.Somerset County Gazette: One plaque represents the coronavirus itself.One plaque represents the coronavirus itself. (Image: Somerset Council)

One plaque represents the Covid-19 virus itself.

Michael Fairfax was chosen by local authority figures and town council members due to his success in completing similar projects across other countries.

Each plaque was first carved into oak, and then cast with molten bronze and securely fixed to the path.Somerset County Gazette: Somerset artist Michael Fairfax was chosen by local authority figures and the town council for the project.Somerset artist Michael Fairfax was chosen by local authority figures and the town council for the project. (Image: Somerset Council)

Clarks even lent the artist a traditional wooden shoe cast, which he then used as inspiration for the feet which feature so prominently on the plaques.

The plaques are now installed on the path between Collett Park, across the Somerset Council office car park at Cannards Grave, which leads under the Historical Railways Estate (HRE) bridge and then on to Townsend Retail Park.

The path ends at the retail park where the Clarks factory was previously situated before it closed in the 1990s.

Cllr Liz Leyshon, Deputy Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Resources and Performance, said: “We think this may be one of the first local authority art commissions in the country that marks Covid-19 and the growth of active travel in this way.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Michael Fairfax and the wonderful volunteers of Greenways & Cycleroutes to bring this project to life.

“These plaques remind us that although the pandemic was devastating, there were some positive outcomes, for example the way we valued being outdoors and getting closer to nature.

"The Council will work to open more multi-user paths across Somerset so people can experience the joy, freedom and safety they bring to communities, in good times and bad.”

A project volunteer said: "This is one of the most rewarding sections of path I've worked on because of the reaction of people walking along and saying what a wonderful route it is to the town centre.”