Belong: Eckington Public Art

In 2019 Strata Homes commissioned Junction Arts to produce a dynamic Public Realm Artwork on land off Staveley Lane, Eckington that communicated the story (past/present/future) of the site.

Belong – School workshops
In February 2019 we commissioned artist, Cora Glasser from Glassball to support us with the engagement and delivery of the artwork on the site which began with working Year 5 students from Eckington Junior School for two busy days of public art and design workshops. We let the young students have the opportunity to become public artists for two days, setting them with a challenging design brief to explore what ‘home’ and ‘belong’ means to them. The students worked in 6 groups to look at creating designs and 3D models based on different themes including history, nature, people, archaeology, maps and ‘home’. Over the two days the students did activities from drawing to model making, collage, writing and digital projection with some wonderful results. It was a demanding task for the class, requiring lots of collaboration, patience and perseverance as they learnt to reject ideas and refine others.

Community Consultations
In summer 2019 we held further consultation activities as part of the town’s Friday market and spoke to residents of the new housing development in Eckington to collect local stories and memories.
Artist, Cora Glasser used the engagement with the school and local residents to inform design concepts that were then put to a vote where residents could make any comments and voice any concerns. The challenges of working in public art is that everyone has a different outlook and the response was for a low-lying artwork that complemented the site’s past.

Final designs
The final design for the Belong site was developed in response to feedback from local residents whilst also staying true to the ideas and words gathered from the voices of local young people that we worked with at Eckington Junior School. We’re really proud of how the artwork has been developed and hope it is a legacy that residents can be proud of.
“Our public artwork produced for Junction Arts and Strata Homes explores the connection to the earliest example of iron smelting in Derbyshire found on ‘Belong’ site in Eckington. Through a co-creative process with residents and local school children, exploring what it means to belong to an area, helped form ideas into the site-specific concept of an ‘Iron House’. The use of the local stone unearthed from the site and weathering steel, which oxidises to create a protective layer, makes a visual and direct connection to the time depth of the site, along with the newly created poem cut into the steel, provides a contemporary and rooted interpretation of this locally important story.” Cora Glasser, Glassball
Installed in October 2019, the artwork will have a natural bedding in process and the corten steel that was incorporated will weather, reflecting the site’s rich heritage.
“I truly hope this will serve long into the life of our lovely site when we have finally downed tools and moved onto our next development to keep the memory fresh of what has been thus far a very successful scheme.” Martin Monaghan – Architect for Strata Homes

Throughout the year we have held further consultation activities, as part of the town’s Friday market and spoke to residents of the new housing development in Eckington, to collect local stories and memories. We hope that the artwork will celebrate the site’s rich archaeological history, discovered as one of the first medieval iron smelting sites in Derbyshire and incorporate some of the text and designs that were developed with the school.