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Public Art is often the glue that begins to knit the existing and the new communities together, and the powerful elements that give a new neighbourhood its distinctive character – clearly something which housebuilders, including Countryside, are recognising. Increasingly, there is research evidence demonstrating the significant benefits to well-being, to long-term effects of modernisation and distinctiveness that well-conceived public art projects can achieve with community engagement.

The Art Navigator - by Alison Turnball

One place this is clearly evident is Countryside’s Wickhurst Green development in West Sussex, which provides a great opportunity for public art as part of this prestigious new housing scheme. As a housebuilder with fantastic vision and creating a genuine sense of place, Countryside has been a pleasure to work with. The development teams I have worked with both at Wickhurst Green, and at their much-heralded Beaulieu development in Chelmsford (pictured above), have a completely positive attitude to public art and fully appreciate the enhancement that it brings to the development portfolio.

Horsham District Council and Broadbridge Heath Parish Council, along with Countryside, have proved important partners for the Wickhurst Green project. Councillors have helped to select the artists and approved the type of project they will work towards. The local schools and other community groups are excited to be working with the artists in the autumn, and following a series of workshops the artists will put together their designs to be exhibited locally.

The exciting part of the process is in allowing the artists to explore the geography of the site, the history of the area and the aspirations of the community and to allow the artists scope to respond to all these influences.

The role of the commissioner for public art is a bit like the orienteering navigator using clues and a compass to find the path, work out the questions and answers at different points and deliver the solution at the end without running over or spending too much money! There is a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge required to put together a strategy that fits with the desires of both the housebuilder and the Local Authority. It is crucial therefore to identify the right artists to fulfil the brief in a creative and original way, creating something beautiful and of good quality that will have a lasting impact and complement the architecture and landscape of each new neighbourhood and the surrounding homes.

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Alison Turnball,
Public Arts Consultant

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About this blog

Here you’ll find property related blog articles from the team at Countryside as well as independent experts. Expect regular tips and advice on topics such as buying a new home, interior and landscape design, setting up home, mortgages and finance, plus articles on architecture, the property market, regeneration and more.

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