Crawley artists invited to take part in public art competition

Crawley artists are invited to play their part in building community spirit and inspiring residents at new affordable housing developments across England.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 3:52 pm

Leading housing provider Stonewater has launched the George Blunden Public Art Prize, a competition to find an artist who can produce creative public artworks as a focal point for five new schemes it is building over the coming year.

The winning artist will be awarded the prize of £75,000 for their creativity, project management and scoping out of the artwork pieces.

Each commission will be allocated a separate budget for delivering and executing the public art at each site, covering costs such as the fabrication, build, materials, and logistics.

Mural by Ester Coombs depicting the Imperial Cinema during its heyday on a metal frame in the shape of a film reel

Entrants are being asked to pitch an idea for a long-term, low maintenance installation for one of its developments currently under construction and demonstrate how they would propose working with colleagues and communities to develop such artworks across a number of schemes.

Stonewater’s teams have been installing public art at new developments for nearly a decade, working with local communities and commissioning artists to create pieces that convey a distinctive sense of place, exploring local history and characteristics of the area.

Stonewater is currently leading a significant housebuilding programme, aiming to build at least 1,500 new homes a year from 2022, presenting many more opportunities to commission public art for its new communities to enjoy.

One example in Crawley was installed in 2017 at a mixed tenure development on the former site of the old 1920s Imperial Cinema.

As part of the project, Stonewater commissioned artist Esther Coombs in association with ‘a space arts’ to create a mural depicting the Imperial Cinema during its heyday on a metal frame in the shape of a film reel.

Jonathan Layzell, executive director of development at Stonewater, said: “Stonewater has been a longstanding crusader of public art within our new developments, recognising the visual and social value it brings.

“Such artworks encourage people to visit, gather and socialise, presenting an exciting opportunity to build a strong sense of community among new and existing residents of the area.

“Over the last year, while many of us have spent more time exploring our local surroundings during the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of having beautiful sights and engaging outdoor areas near our homes has never been greater.

“With this, our first public art award competition, we are looking to bring communities together to express and voice new ideas, enriching our existing public art initiatives.”

The prize has been named after Stonewater’s founding board chair, George Blunden, in recognition of his commitment to adding value and creating a sense of place at every development built by the housing provider.

George stepped down in 2019 and was recently awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his work in the housing sector with Stonewater.

The competition is open to artists, both emerging and established, of all disciplines as of Friday, June 25.