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Stonewater announces this year’s Blunden Prize winner

Leading housing provider Stonewater has announced the winner of its national public art competition.
(L-R) Nicholas Harris, Stonewater Chief Executive; Sheila Collins, Stonewater Chairman; Blunden Prize 202223 finalists – David Lloyd, Patrick Wa

Stonewater launched its second Blunden Prize public art competition late last year to find a talented artist to produce a creative piece of public art as a focal point for its new affordable housing development in Leeds.

The competition once again proved popular, with over 50 entries received from artists and creators across the country, all hoping for their chance to work with Stonewater and the local community to produce the latest piece to be added to an already vast catalogue of public art.

The top prize has gone to Patrick Walls, a stonemason and sculptor who has created stone sculptures and focal points that are displayed across the country. Patrick works closely with the community on his creations, often running workshops and engaging with local schools, something that was an important part of Stonewater’s brief to engage the local community and leave them with a sense of involvement and ownership of the public art that is created.

Based in Holmfirth, just an hour from Leeds, Patrick will work closely with local residents to produce a trail of stone carved pieces including a landmark sculpture and stone benches highlighting contributions from workshop participants, to be displayed at Stonewater’s Calverley Lane development in Horsforth.

Calverley Lane will provide over 150 affordable homes on the former Leeds City College campus and the development team has already been engaging with the local community, recently taking part in a community litter pick with the local primary school.

In keeping with Stonewater’s environmental aims, the site is using air source heat pumps to replace carbon-emitting gas boilers, as well as solar panels, reducing the use of fossil fuels and resulting in lower energy bills for residents who will begin to move in later in the summer. Patrick’s sculptures will also contribute to a reduced environmental impact, with stone sculpture processes having a low carbon footprint, minimal transport costs due to the use of local quarries, and hardwearing materials.

Patrick was chosen from a shortlist of eight, drawn up by a selection of Stonewater’s retirement living residents who reviewed the entries against a brief, which asked artists to show how they would take into account the location and history of the site the artwork would be created for, as well as how they would consider the environment and limit the carbon footprint of their work.

His completed projects include a sculpture unveiled by HRH Princess Beatrice for Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield, a series of carved stone plaques marking the route of a culverted beck under Bradford’s city streets, and a set of sculptures for 1960’s West Yorkshire housing estate The Rivers.

The final round judges chose Patrick as the winner of the prize fund and opportunity to create Stonewater’s latest piece of public art, stating his obvious enthusiasm for his craft and personable nature as an advocate for public art as reasons for the choice. The judges felt Patrick would be an engaging and positive leader of the project to create artwork for, and with, the local community.

Stonewater’s Chief Executive, Nicholas Harris, said: “Being lucky enough to be a part of the judging panel for this year’s Blunden Prize, I know how tough the competition was, with an amazingly high standard of entries covering all areas of the creative arts, but I’m thrilled to see Patrick crowned the winner.

“We’re really proud of the work we’ve done over the years to enhance our communities with public art that involves our communities and gives them a sense of belonging and pride in their local area. Patrick will be a fantastic addition to the artists we work with, and we’re really looking forward to getting started on the public art project for Calverley Lane.

“Congratulations to Patrick and thank you to all those who took the time to enter; we have some immense talent across the country doing amazing things within their local communities.”

Stonewater, who manages around 36,000 homes across the UK, has commissioned local artists to provide public art for its developments for nearly a decade, and launched the Blunden Prize competition with the aim of enhancing its public art initiative. The Prize enables Stonewater to work with communities and commissioned artists to create pieces conveying a distinctive sense of place, exploring each local area’s history and characteristics.

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