Somerset Day Tribute to King Alfred the Great

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A unique artwork by one of the world’s leading street artists in tribute to a legendary king was unveiled for Somerset Day.

An extraordinary historical 30 foot King Alfred the Great portrait was painted at The King Alfred School Academy (TKASA) in Highbridge as part of a celebration of Somerset Day.

To celebrate the Great King and to help the students have a better understanding of their school namesake, the school enlisted the help of world-renowned artist Andrew Burns Colwill.

The artwork mixed history with the modern world and was unveiled to the school’s 1200 students alongside a day of fun educational activities including other artwork, historical re-enactments, assemblies, and competitions.

In the unique mural, King Alfred the Great has a paintbrush instead of a sword with two children sitting with a pile of books at his feet. There is a Viking on his left hand side and a Saxon on his right hand side – both looking a little confused and tired with their weapons down to the ground.

King Alfred finished 14th on a 2002 list of greatest ever Britons, with Winston Churchill winning the poll.

To celebrate Somerset Day there was a student battle of the bands, a Viking re-enactment, a BARB hovercraft rescue, and visits from St John’s Ambulance, local artists, police and more. It sparks months of art and musical events at the school to involve the whole community and region in the celebration of the great King.

Artist Andy has worked for many years on projects across the country and the globe. He has been painting canvases since he was a child and his artwork has been on the streets of Bristol since the late 1970s as he was one of the original Bristol street artists. Several of his enormous murals can currently be spotted around the city today.  

Principal Nathan Jenkins said, “King Alfred was rightly called ‘great’ and his legacy should be celebrated through the country. He founded primary school education for example and is responsible for preserving the English language. This is a fitting tribute to him.

“King Alfred was brave, determined and visionary and our students are very proud of our heritage and history. We felt this this artwork would be a suitable tribute that everyone could enjoy. The King lived and did his amazing historical feats right in this area.

“We were thrilled to secure Andy's support for this project and look forward to seeing the work develop. Andy is keen to share his process and experience with the students, who will have the privilege of seeing him work live."

Denys Rayner, Chair of Somerset Day, said: “King Alfred is rightly the ambassador of Somerset, with his huge achievements, history and character. It is wonderful to see a Somerset school bring alive his memory in such an incredible way for Somerset Day.”

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Cerrie Williams