8 December 2015

An artist is now being sought to take forward an ambitious public art project inspired by the legacy of the former Tinsley cooling towers.

In what is the largest art commission in Sheffield in recent years, the aim is to create a significant work that is integral to the regeneration of an area that was once the heart of Sheffield’s heavy industry, and is now a meeting point of connections – rail, tram, bus, road, footpaths and cycleways.

The £450,000 artwork, funded by energy firm E.ON – which has its new Blackburn Meadows biomass plant in Tinsley – will reflect both the industrial past of Sheffield, the 95-year history of energy production on the Blackburn Meadows site, and the city’s innovative, creative future.

Sheffield City Council is now seeking applications to select an artist and take the project forward. The successful artist will work with stakeholders, the project board and the local community, including schools, businesses and residents, to create a work which will represent the character of the area and reflect Sheffield as a whole.

Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council, said: “It is fantastic that this project, which has been in the pipeline for so long, has now reached this critical stage.

“For more than a year now, we’ve been working with artist David Cotterrell, who has engaged the community in helping to write the brief for the main piece of art, offering up both a resource and a challenge to whoever wins the tender. This has involved everything from working with pupils at Tinsley Meadows Primary School to putting on an exhibition at Park Hill to explore the project further.

“It’s now great to move forward and officially launch our search for an artist to join us, in what is an exciting opportunity to bring a unique and creative approach to an area rich with history, and promise for the future.”

Funding for the project was pledged by E.ON when the Tinsley towers were demolished in August 2008, in recognition of the significance of the cooling towers to the city of Sheffield.

The scheme is closely linked to the wider regeneration of the lower Don Valley. A new Bus Rapid Transport link road to relieve congestion at junction 34 of the M1 motorway is set to be completed next summer, while a major flood defence scheme is also underway.

There is no fixed site for the art project and the artist will be invited to develop a design along themes which include great art, storytelling, creativity, Made in Sheffield, advanced manufacturing, sustainable energy, craft and design.

Coun Richards added: “We believe that the project needs to be rooted in, and begin in, the local place and local people.

“It is critical that the art project involves local schools and community groups, business and industry. However, the project also needs to engage the wider city community.

“Although site and budget are obvious constraints, those behind the project see lots of exciting possibilities, and have no fixed approach. It will be very exciting to see what is created here.”

Sheila Sutherland, a Tinsley resident and a member of the board that is overseeing the project, said: “It is fantastic news that the Tinsley Art Project has reached this landmark, and I look forward to working with the chosen artist as they develop the project further.

“This area was at the heart of Sheffield’s heavy industrial past. Now with the many connections by foot, bike, road, tram and rail and the richness of the biodiversity and recreational value of the river and canal, it has a new potential.”

Michelle Dickson, Director at the Arts Council, said: “The Arts Council has been one of the partners working with colleagues in Sheffield City Council and others to help realise this project, and is delighted that they are now in a position to look for an artist to deliver the ambition and vision that has been generated over the past year by artist David Cotterrell.

“This is a fantastic example of great art being developed with meaningful engagement with local communities, and where local and national partnerships are working together delivering high quality arts, regeneration and place making projects.”

Luke Ellis, production manager at E.ON’s Blackburn Meadows renewable energy plant, said: “Our investment in a source of renewable power and heat continues the long tradition of energy generation at Blackburn Meadows.

“We wanted to fund a landmark public art project with a theme of energy to honour that past and also look forward to the future of the city and I hope the final artwork will be something that unites the local community and provides a landmark of which they can be proud.”

For further information visit the website at www.sheffield.gov.uk/tinsleyartproject