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Annual public art prize opens for entries

The competition seeks ideas for art installation at a housing development.

Artist's impression of the new homes at Elm Fields Farm in Coventry
Artist's impression of the new homes at Elm Fields Farm in Coventry

A popular, annual competition is once again on the hunt for East Midlands-based artists to provide their ideas for an art installation at a new affordable housing development.


Following two prior competitions, and the commissioning of public art on its developments for over 10 years, Stonewater has launched its Blunden Prize for 2024.


The leading housing provider, which recently celebrated the opening of its 6000th newly constructed affordable home, is calling for artists from across the East Midlands to enter the competition and be in with a chance to produce a piece of public art that will be displayed on its development of 150 new homes at Elm Fields Farm in Coventry.


Previous winning pieces have included a community garden and oak-tree-inspired seating canopy, as well as a trail of carved stone pieces and benches incorporating work from community workshops that was the winning piece from the 2023 Prize. This year’s theme will explore what art means to different audiences, covering different disciplines and exploring inspiration, which will widen the scope of creativity even further.


Patrick Walls, Blunden Prize winner in 2023, has encouraged other artists to enter, saying: "This is a fantastic opportunity and I'd recommend any artist to apply. The team at Stonewater are really supportive and the Blunden Prize has given me the opportunity to develop ambitious ideas for public art across five different sites; each sculpture specific to its location yet forming a collective body of work."


Patrick Walls, the winner of the 2022-23 Blunden Prize
Patrick Walls, the winner of the 2022-23 Blunden Prize

The 2024 competition winner will work with Stonewater and its customers to create public art for the Elm Fields scheme, where a mixture of two-, three- and four-bedroom homes and one-bedroom flats are currently under construction. The winner will also receive commissions for two additional pieces of art at other Stonewater development schemes.


With the reduction of carbon emissions remaining a key focus for Stonewater across all its new sites, artists will be asked to closely consider the sustainability of their proposed project, minimising the impact on the environment and embracing new tools and technologies. At Elm Fields, sustainability features include air source heat pumps and high-performance modular building fabric insulation, as well as solar panels and electric car charging infrastructure.


Each piece commissioned will also need to reflect and celebrate its local area and history, with consideration made to how artists will engage with the local community on their proposed project, ensuring the final pieces provide opportunities for collaboration, and result in engaging, low-maintenance and long-lasting pieces for the enjoyment of customers and local communities for years to come.


Jonathan Layzell, Chief Growth and Development Officer at Stonewater, said: "The Blunden Prize has been hugely successful over the last two years, and we’re excited to be launching our third competition with a focus on sustainability, creativity and locality.


"It’s been wonderful to provide opportunities for artists to showcase their work to new audiences, and to see the collaborations with our customers and local communities. We’re very excited to see what this year brings."


As well as the chance to work with Stonewater to display their work, the winner will receive £75,000 and as well as costs involved in creating the winning piece, with entrants being initially asked to deliver ideas and concepts for Stonewater’s Elm Fields development as part of their submission.


Two runners up will also win the opportunity to create pieces for Stonewater, providing more opportunities for artists across the social housing provider’s geographical areas to showcase their work and provide engaging focal points for local communities.


The Blunden Prize 2024 is open to artists of all disciplines, with entries closing at midday on April 12.


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