ORGANISERS of a project to brighten up York’s forgotten and unused spaces are appealing for businesses and landlords to let them use their walls and empty properties.

Wallpaper designer Deborah Bowness is working with York College students to develop art installations in an effort to reinvigorate the city’s streets.

The project, called Paper Trail, was started by the artist as part of a festival in Brighton last year, but following its success Deborah decided to bring it back to York before rolling it out nationwide.

The company is working with City of York Council to make improvements in six areas identified under the Reinvigorate York initiative.

The installations will be on show throughout May and a Paper Trail map of the exhibition will be made for visitors to follow.

Leigh Bowness, managing director of Bowness and Bowness, said: “Nobody likes looking at empty shops or run down spaces. By decorating them with interesting, funny and unusual art installations it will make people smile.

“It will bring people a bit of joy in a place where they wouldn’t otherwise expect it.

“The nature of Deborah’s work is it’s a trick of the eye. It will make people look and look again.”

Deborah Bowness exports her “trompe l’oeil” (trick of the eye) designs, which feature realistic life-size domestic objects, across the world from the company premises in Riccall. The exhibition intends to extend the canvas beyond interior walls into the streets, while engaging with art students and the community.

Leigh said they also hoped the exhibition could help to draw attention to properties to let, promote previously over-looked and uninviting parts of the city and deter graffiti.

Derek Gauld, head of major projects and initiatives at City of York Council, said: “Paper Trail is a unique, innovative and timely art exhibition which can only bring benefits to those who participate and for the city of York.

“The Reinvigorate York initiative has identified six key areas in the city in which the public environment should be improved, starting with King’s Square this spring.

“Paper Trail is an ideal quick fix to achieve some attention and intrigue before that work.”

It is hoped the exhibition will secure as many spaces as possible, including the White Swan Hotel in Piccadilly, Leeman Road tunnel and the hoardings at York Art Gallery.

Contact or 01757 248500 to get involved.