Home > News > Events > Metal presents… Netpark Illustrators

We’re delighted to be exhibiting the original sketches, creative processes and final works by five illustrators commissioned in the summer of 2015 to work with a writer and five Southend primary schools to create a  series of new site-specific digital stories for NetPark in Chalkwell Park, Southend-on-Sea.

NetPark is the first digital art park in the world, developed with software partners, Calvium and research partner, the University of Brighton to create an added visitor attraction to the usual stroll in a public, municipal park.  

Together Metal, working with artist and curator, Simon Poulter, and Calvium developed a new Story Building App which enabled the participating children to develop, write and code locative narratives, written for the Park and placing them within GPS co-ordinates for visitors to enjoy. Each school was working with a writer and illustrator to produce the site-specific stories.

As well as the stories, the project created 5 unique artworks commissioned from artists.  


The NetPark Illustrators on exhibit are Zoe Barker, Karl Lawson, Maggi Li, Claire Softley, Maddy Vian

Beecroft Art Gallery, Victoria Ave, Southend-on-Sea SS2 6EX

23 April – 21 May 2016


All 10 NetPark works are available to experience, free, at any time in Chalkwell Park, using an iPad in the Park – just download from

If you don’t have access to the right technology, come to experience NetPark on one of our Open Days, where you can borrow an iPad from Chalkwell Hall and get an advice on using them.

Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 May

Thursday 2 June (Half Term)

Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 June

Saturday 30  & Sunday 31 July

Thursday 18 & Friday 19 August (Summer Holidays)

Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 September

The creation of NetPark was supported by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts – Nesta, Arts & Humanities Research Council and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Royal Opera House Bridge and Southend Borough Council.


Illustrated by Zoe Barker – with the children of Milton Hall School, writer Jeremy Hardingham and artist Elsa James.  

Have you ever been for a walk in a park and wondered if everything is quite what it seems? Ever wondered if the people and things you can see, hear, touch, taste and even smell are really the people and things you think they are?  Look again, more closely this time – maybe you’ll discover that everything, or almost everything, is very strange indeed.

Netpark Illustrator - Zoe Barker

Netpark Illustrator – Zoe Barker


Illustrated by Karl Lawson – with the children of Thorpe Greenways Junior School, writer Syd Moore  and artist, Elsa James. 

Once upon a time there was a kingdom of Scentopia.  It was one of the most glorious places in the world. On every lane, at every street corner, beautiful plants burst with colour. The Royal Twins, Arthur and Belle had a very happy life there.  Until one fateful day when everything changed and they were thrown into an epic adventure that led them to discover parts of their kingdom they never knew existed.

Netpark Illustrator - Karl Lawson

Netpark Illustrator – Karl Lawson



Illustrated by Claire Softley – written with the children of Westborough School and writer Vahni Capildeo. 

Robot-Mark-One has been sent from the future and has crash landed in Chalkwell Park.   She had been designed as a girl robot but liked to call herself Mark and she loved adventure. Travel around Chalkwell Park with her and discover the hidden portals and fantastic animals she comes across along the way.

Netpark Illustrator - Claire Softley

Netpark Illustrator – Claire Softley



Illustrated by Maddy Vian – with the children of St George’s School and writer Vahni Capildeo. 

For as long he can remember, Florian the peacock has been waiting patientily in his peacock cage for an audience to tell his story to.  It’s a story he witnessed himself, a story of love, of good versus evil – and a story that will mean you will never look at the tall tulips of Chalkwell Park in quite the same way again.

Netpark Illustrator - Maddy Vian

Netpark Illustrator – Maddy Vian


Illustrated by Maggi Li – written with the children of Chalkwell Hall Junior School and writer Lucy Sheerman. 

Bob lives in Chalkwell Park – have you seen  him?  Probably not, he is good at hiding and even better at finding things.  In fact he’s an expert at returning lost things to their owners.  So it came as a great surprise when one day he lost something of his own – and had to go on a great adventure to get it back.

Netpark Illustrator - Maggie Li

Netpark Illustrator – Maggie Li


Metal presents… Netpark Illustrators