Eight people have been shortlisted to become the ‘Face of Stoke-on-Trent’ after 3,550 images were submitted for a huge photo mosaic in the city.

Artist Helen Marshall and her team will begin installing the outdoor photo exhibition from Tuesday, November 21, including one iconic, overall face on the side of the electricity substation next to Hanley Town Hall. There will also be faces used across the former Harvey’s building.

People will be able to see the artwork, measuring 172 square feet, taking shape during the week and the official announcement of the person who has become the ‘face’ is set to be made on Friday, November 24.

The People’s Picture - run by award-winning artist Helen - was commissioned to create the artwork as part of Stoke-on-Trent’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021. The photo mosaic will reveal the final chosen Face of Stoke-on-Trent.

The shortlist, including the participants’ stories, is available to view at [1]. It includes:

  • Reece Rushton, aged 13, of Tunstall, who wants to be a famous YouTube video creator;
  • Nicole Williamson, aged 26, of Hanley, who is opening her own sandwich bar;
  • Jozef Clark, aged 23, of Hanley, a shop and catering worker with links to Stoke-on-Trent’s YMCA;
  • Sarah Dawson, aged 33, of Abbey Hulton, a social club volunteer and performer for the local Masque Theatre Company;
  • Vikram Deo, aged 18, of Maybank, a college student who is studying business and enjoys travelling;
  • Sania Maqbool, aged 17, of Burslem, an A-level student who is part of the Burslem Jubilee project and wants to study law at university;
  • Dan Townley, aged 25, of Tunstall, who is involved in community radio station 6 Towns Radio;
  • Tynisha Sheperd, aged 24, of Hanley, a mother-of-two who is studying a business degree.

A celebration event will be held outside the artwork from noon on Saturday, November 25. This will include a chance to meet the artist, photographers and shortlisted people.  A booklet with the featured photos and their stories will be available.

The images were collected in just 29 days through an online campaign and a team of local photographers stationed across the city.

Every photo will be included in the exhibition and the booklet telling the stories behind the featured faces will also be available online.

The artwork has been printed and installed by local firm Stoke Signage.

Western Power Distribution gave permission for the team to use the Lichfield Street electricity substation. The photo mosaic is expected to stay on show for five years.

People will also be able to visit [2] for a digital version of the image, with the chance to zoom in and spot people they know.

B Arts worked with the People’s Picture team to create opportunities to take part in the Face of Stoke-on-Trent project by procuring local photographers, and the SOTogether Social Impacts Group met regularly with the team to discuss the choice for the final face for the artwork.

Some of the submitted photos have appeared in a pop-up exhibition in Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station and this display can still be viewed in the building’s underground walkway until December 11.

Councillor Abi Brown, chair of the bid and deputy leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “The response to the project has been fantastic and shows the excitement and enthusiasm which the UK City of Culture 2021 bid has generated across Stoke-on-Trent. I’d like to thank everyone who took part and made it the incredible success that it’s been.

“This artwork will represent the whole of Stoke-on-Trent and show how we are an inspiring and forward-thinking city which is on the up and has so much potential to grow and succeed in the future.”

Helen Marshall said: “I tasked myself with the impossible, to create one face to represent the city while representing the many. I took on board people’s views not to look to the past or for it to be a famous or notable face.

“I can reveal that the face will be that of a young person, in the here and now, facing forward on their journey and with a quiet confidence much like the city itself. The final face generated the biggest conversation and I hope that will continue for years to come.”