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In Sheffield, home is where the art is

An artist who made Sheffield his home has been part of a project aiming to introduce more art to enhance new housing developments in the area.
Lytton Art Unveiling, Sheffield, United Kingdom, 17th January 2024

Working with Sheffield Housing Company (SHC) and Sheffield City Council’s Public Art Officer and Design Conservation and Trees team, Simon Le Ruez – who has been living in Sheffield for the last 20 years – has created a sculptural garden with two colourful artworks within a public space for SHC’s Gaskell Gardens housing development, in Parson Cross.

Simon said: “I have worked in different cities across the UK and abroad and Sheffield has always felt like home. The green landscape of the city was a key inspiration for the project’s site.

“I wanted to create an artwork that would be rooted in the community.  I think we have achieved this by delivering a meadow garden, that recalls the wild and green heritage of Sheffield and a domestic style garden, that will evolve thanks to the caring of volunteers in the community.

“In addition, for the sculptures, I have used steel bars to explore meeting points between interior and exterior spaces, along with a celebratory colour palette which furthers this experience. At the heart of the work is a sense of flow, transition and transformation.  There are two structures, each hosting a different colour acrylic ball, which reflect and visually play with the immediate surroundings and – along with the rhythmic colours employed – I hope will offer a sense of intrigue, inclusion and joy.”

The scheme, which was made possible by a £8,000 contribution from SHC, is the fourth public art project that SHC has delivered to the city – following the success of the ‘art to the park sculptures’ at Norfolk Heritage Park and schemes at Brearley Forge and Princes Gardens.

Steve Birch, Project Director at SHC, said: “SHC is committed to delivering meaningful public art as part of its housing projects, as a way to create attractive spaces, provide interest for the local community, and express local identity and character.  Art does not have to be only for the city centre – by working with individuals like Simon, we can ensure that when it is done right, sculptures of this sort have the ability to build respect, ownership and pride in these important neighbourhoods.”

The sculptures were made by a local fabricator called Steel Line Ltd which have been trading within Sheffield since 1979. Matt Littlewood, Business Manager at Steel Line said: “It was a pleasure to bring Simon Le Ruez vision to life. It was important to us that we did Sheffield proud with these sculptures and Simon shared that view also, we take great pride in all our pieces of work but there is just that little extra something when the project is local like this one.”

Located at the junction of Buchanan Road and Lytton Road, the artwork will provide an attractive gateway to the nearby Gaskell Gardens development and wider neighbourhood adjacent to the Chaucer District Centre.

Councillor Douglas Johnson, Chair of the Sheffield City Council Housing Policy Committee, said: “Art is for everyone to enjoy, to experience, to live. It can be on a street on your way back home for you, your friends, your family; to become part of your days and of your wellbeing. This public art project aims at delivering great and beautiful art in the wider Sheffield’s landscape and working collaboratively. We hope to see and talk with as many visitors as possible on the opening day!”

Established in 2011 with an ambitious target of building 2,300 properties on a total of 23 sites by the end of 2026, SHC is Sheffield City Council’s joint venture development company with private developer Keepmoat and Great Places Housing.

In this time, the partnership has created over 800 jobs, 75 apprenticeships, spent more than £80mn with construction businesses in the South Yorkshire region and contributed over £50,000 to local community groups, schools and good causes.

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