Artistic flair to make a house a home

Artistic flair to make a house a home

Public artwork is a crucial element of Stonewater’s commitment to building not just new and much-needed affordable developments, but communities, says Jonathan Layzell, Executive Director – Development.

From acquiring the land to starting on site, we’re always working with an end goal in mind — creating a home for someone to live in, enjoy and maybe bring up a family. A home should be a place where they can feel safe, a sanctuary for themselves and their loved ones.

Appreciating that what we do is so much more than just assembling bricks and mortar means that we are acutely aware of the scope offered by the public spaces around our homes too.

One of the many things we’ve learned during the pandemic is the importance of these open spaces around us. I, for one, know that during lockdown I was more grateful than I’d ever been for my local park!

At Stonewater, we’ve previously talked about how our tree planting programme helps to bring far-reaching benefits to our residents and their communities. What may not be as well-known is the fact that, for over a decade, we’ve been working with local artists to commission and install works of art that help build a sense of place at our developments.

To highlight and step up this aspect of our work, this year we launched the George Blunden Public Art Prize (named after Stonewater’s founding chair) to find a talented artist to produce creative focal points for five of our schemes that we are currently building.

As an organisation, we’re leading a significant housebuilding programme, aiming to build at least 1,500 homes a year from 2022 and presenting many more opportunities to commission public art for communities to enjoy.

Coda Workshop idea for Mulberry Meadows

There were more than 160 artists from all over the country who registered their interest in pitching ideas for art installations aimed at building community spirit and inspiring residents. After whittling it down to just six finalists, we were able to announce our first winner of the prize last month — Coda Workshop.

Ran by artists Bryn Hallett and Mark Rousseau, the core focus for their work is sustainability, collaboration and a sensitive approach to heritage, which very much aligns with our own approach to not just public art but also our journey to net zero.

This award aimed to not just celebrate what we have been doing to date, but to raise the bar in terms of the impact of our artwork and the scale of our ambitions. After seeing the quality of Coda Workshop’s submission and hearing them present their idea for our Mulberry Meadows scheme in the second round of judging, I personally can’t wait to see their design installed down in Castle Cary.

Launching the prize has been an incredible opportunity to look back at many of our existing schemes and reflect on the value placemaking has had to those communities. Public art encourages people to visit, gather and socialise, presenting an exciting opportunity for community building with new and existing residents.

Whilst I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken at Stonewater to raise the profile of our public art initiative, my hope is that it will inspire fellow developers and housing providers to explore more opportunities to create their own inspirational works of art that generate a sense of pride and belonging among residents in newly built communities across the country.

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