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Public Art and Building Schools for the Future in Sheffield 2008-09


Over the past decade public art in Sheffield has become an integral part of the fabric of the city. Sheffield City Council has been bold in acknowledging the role it has to play in creating places which are tangible, real, used and owned – what more appropriate place to do this than a school? The extent of the BSF programme in Sheffield over the next few years offers a unique opportunity to underpin the value of art in our everyday and community lives and to create a significant artistic and educational resource. For the artist it offers an opportunity for a broad approach which can unite conceptual ideas, new technologies and ways of thinking with a high level of craft quality. For individuals the public art programme provides a point at which the whole school community can touch and get real involvement in the process of designing and building a new school. The enduring quality of the work is its ability to engage, not just the current but, future communities. For the school this work has social and educational value which extends beyond the art department. It can create links between subjects, suggest refreshing and different ways of seeing things, embody the ethos of the school and touch individuals. The BSF programme seeks to ‘transform’ the way in which education is delivered; the works in this document are an exciting contribution to that ambition. Andrew Skelton Public Art Officer, Sheffield City Council





Project Overview


Newfield School


Talbot Specialist School


Siverdale School

10/11 Yewlands School 12



VINCI Education



Project Overview

Building Schools for the Future (BSF)Â is a Department for Children, Schools and the Family (DCSF) programme to rebuild or refurbish secondary schools across England. The aim of the BSF programme is to transform the way in which education is delivered by providing 21st-century teaching and learning facilities. Sheffield City Council and VINCI Education are working together to deliver the programme in Sheffield through the Sheffield Local Education Partnership Paradigm, a consortium led by VINCI Education was appointed to deliver the BSF programme in Sheffield and Beam was commissioned to ensure that good quality public art was integrated into the schools emerging from the first stage of the initiative. The brief was to produce public art that united and reflected the character and identity of the whole community of users. This catalogue endeavors to provide you with a flavour of the creativity and innovation of the public art project delivered in the four Sheffield schools that are lighting the way for the rest of the BSF programme.


Newfield School

Newfield School is an age 11-16 mixed comprehensive school with over 1000 pupils. Newfield School and Talbot Specialist School have been co-located onto a single site benefiting from shared dining facilities. The Brief Design a feature display adjacent to the main entrance to Newfield School. The Creative Handspring Design is a multidisciplinary practice specialising in sculptural timber structures for both public and private clients. We work to commission and also offer a range of bespoke shelter structures. This project was lead by Director Scot Fletcher. Initial Design Ideas Layering of materials, objects, artefacts, memories and ever changing art works within the boundaries of large letters to engage and delight incorporating various materials mined from the old school buildings, as well as some used within the new build. 4

Through the FIELDS of LEARNING project we have drawn on the students ideas and inspiration to develop a visible welcoming mantra for all to pass every day on their way into the new schools. It should also serve to connect them to place being largely constructed from the familiar-elements from their old school presented in unfamiliar ways. Scot Fletcher, Handspring Design

Engagement and Consultation Assemblies introducing ideas of public art, the proposal for the feature wall and showing examples of the materials salvaged from the old school. Workshop - pupils given a similar brief to designers. The strongest concepts developed were: 1 - to use the word / letters as a representation of the schools six study areas but also to suggest the expansiveness of a broad education and 2 - the idea of a large

sculptural hand and tree representing a welcoming, safe and nurturing educational process. Final Design A series of sculptures to spell out the word FIELDS; the construction and content of each letter referring to each of the six ‘fields’ of learning offered to students with different salvaged materials from the old school that relate the subject area represented. Interactive elements include growing areas, a seat and a ‘pod’ for exhibiting

selected student artworks. Solar LED lighting also plays an important part in the design being used to backlight some letters and highlight the gallery pod. Plus an extension of the sculpture by adding the words ‘of learning’ as 2D set in the ground perpendicular to the wall beyond FIELDS.


Talbot Specialist School Talbot Specialist School is an age 11-19 mixed community special school for students with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties. The school currently serves the whole of Sheffield and has 134 children on roll. The Brief Engage pupils in sensory and experiential engagement and create a focal point located in the reception area linked to the artwork produced for Newfield School. The Creative Handspring Design was also commissioned to deliver the public art project in Talbot Specialist School. Conversation is at the core of their public-space commissions: sculptures, shelters, seating installations, and creative spaces for parks, schools and communities.


As visitors and students enter into Reception, they will be met by the strong image of a tree, taking a closer look, the tree emerges as a hand, the Makaton sign for a tree. The sculpture represents the secure, nurturing and holistic approach the school undertakes towards its community. Anne Staves, Teacher for Art and Judith Smith, Headteacher at Talbot School.

Engagement and Consultation This engagement workshop was less structured than the Newfield session and more about getting to know the students and communicating with them. Touch was very important and we also ran a drawing class where lots of the students drew hands. Final Design To create a large 3m tall, 3D, colourful, tactile, welcoming, hand that would stand in reception facing the entrance doors for students and adjacent to corridor access

from Newfield. The sculpture is the right hand with palm forwards and fingers and thumb pointing upwards, this is very close to sign language for tree and also for welcome or hello. Primarily constructed from laminated timber the sculpture will incorporate other materials and pockets or voids for the students to place their work. The whole structure being tactile and safe for the students to touch.


Silverdale School

Silverdale School is an age 11-18 mixed comprehensive school with an integrated resource unit for Profoundly Deaf children. The Brief A permanent steel sculpture and integrated railings to be located in the external forecourt which forms the schools main entrance The Creative David Appleyard graduated with a BA (Hons) and MA in Industrial Design. He then worked as a product designer and design 8

researcher. Since 2004, he has been increasingly designing for the public realm and has created installations for landscapes, buildings, parks, other green spaces, schools and gardens. Initial Design Ideas The initial idea was based on the expanding form of a sound wave to the site. The concept proposed a linear steel barrier, which gradually expands and unravels to form a spiral feature

intended to function as a waiting/ meeting area at the front of the entrance area. Then it was decided that the intended balustrade would be removed and consequently moved the project in a new direction. This resulted in the sculpture flowing between the two levels of the site to form a more dynamic entrance feature with an erratic flowing form which offers a different view from every angle.

The project for Silverdale School developed through several stages of discussion and consultation with staff and students. The design process was challenging but offered students an opportunity to think about how a three dimensional structure might change the entrance space. The resulting work encompasses ideas about growth flow and direction. Dave Appleyard, Artist for Silverdale Project.

Engagement and Consultation Model making workshop – pupils participated in making models similar to David and were then asked to respond to his initial ideas. Pupils were involved in design decisions including form and material, which David referenced throughout idea development. The idea of growth and a ‘snake like’ movement in and out of the grounds’ surface has been adopted.

Studio visit – pupils visited David’s studio space and created the new structures of the updated design to scale using cardboard. Final Design The ‘fractal ribbon’ concept was seen to have an additional form to the ‘ribbon’. It was felt that the growing dimensions of the triangles offered a clearer visual representation of growth. Seating and leaning posts were also be accommodated as requested in the student consultation.


Yewlands School

Yewlands School, is an age 11-18 mixed comprehensive school, with 900 students on roll and a designated Technical College. The Brief Create an installation using new technologies that had longevity of involvement from the pupils for the future as well as the present to create a longstanding legacy. The Creative mo-arts is a creative fusion of photography, film and new media lead by artist Monica Fernandez. Monica works in collaboration with other artists, partnerships and commissioners and ensures that she remains flexible and adaptable so that there can be an organic approach throughout the development of a project. Initial Design Ideas The project was based around the theme of ‘Change / Transformation’ using multimedia arts. An organic, experimental process was proposed with the aim to create an art trail throughout the new school. 10

A brilliant session, very well delivered, just at the right pitch. I have been teaching for 30 years but this session has helped me to see my everyday things with a different angle. I have thoroughly enjoyed the training and I am delighted with my outcomes for the day. This training has increased my confidence tremendously in using this program and technology. Janet Heale Teacher

Engagement and Consultation A key part of this project was the development of skills so that the students and teachers would be able to produce future artwork themselves. Pupils and teachers participated in numerous workshops using film and new media to create works that could be developed by Monica. A community event was also held where pupils organised interviews to explore memories of the area and the old school. A training session was specifically arranged for teachers to learn about the software and equipment utilised to create the artworks. Final Design ‘With the final designs I have tried to pick up elements inherent in the architecture of the place; complimenting the colour, light and space. Not wanting to be invasive, I have tried to add new layers of the future. In Particles of Thoughts there are two glass tiles that seem to be falling out of line, this feature was a metaphor to remind us that ‘errors and mistakes’ are also part of our learning experiences in life.’



Beam is a company dedicated to the imaginative understanding and improvement of the public realm – our urban and rural streets, buildings, parks, housing estates and public spaces. Beam is based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and operates locally, regionally, and nationally. We offer professional services and programmes in education and training, project management, consultancy & research, public art in all media, and conferencing. Our team of skilled staff and associates works closely with architects, community leaders, developers, planners, artists and other professionals from the fields of health, culture, regeneration, education, and heritage. At Beam we believe in an integrated approach to regeneration. We put creative thinking, collaborative learning, and the engagement of stakeholders at the heart of everything we do.


VINCI Education

Contact: Kate Bennett, Manager Public Realm Learning Tel: 01924 215550

VINCI Education Limited is committed to providing children with the opportunity to reach their full potential through the provision of exceptional facilities and learning environments. VINCI Education was set up by VINCI PLC in January 2009 to respond specifically to the Government’s Building Schools for the Future initiative. The company’s Managing Director, Andrew Percival, was previously a Sector Director within Taylor Woodrow which was acquired by VINCI PLC in September 2008. Taylor Woodrow originally led Paradigm, the consortium appointed to deliver the BSF programme in Sheffield. The formation of VINCI Education enables VINCI PLC to build on its existing strength in the education market, established through the Local Education Partnership (LEP) with Sheffield City Council and its extensive track record of delivering traditional and PFI education facilities.

Contact: Andrew Percival, Managing Director, VINCI Education Limited, Tel. 01923 478400

Thanks to: Craig Longmuir Scot Fletcher David Appleyard Monica Fernandez Jessica Stevenson Laraine Richardson John Innes Carole Fox Anne Staves

Public Art in Sheffield Schools  
Public Art in Sheffield Schools  

A catalogue showcasing public art projects in 4 Sheffield Schools