In early 2016 Project Centre was commissioned to deliver a suite of interventions for Sutton Council funded by the Greater London Authority’s New Homes Bonus. Interventions included shop front and public realm improvements and a series of events to revitalise the Northern end of Sutton High Street which had low footfall, poor quality retail and anti-social behaviour issues. There had already been extensive consultation on the issues facing the area, and this had indicated that the alleyways leading into the High Street were an area of concern for residents.
The team identified the opportunities the alleyways presented to meet the Council’s brief of innovations, fun, colour and appealing to young people.
The Project Centre team commissioned two artists to work with the community to develop temporary art installations (one a lighting installation and the other treatment to the paving) which would be in situ for approximately 4 months. Over that time the community would be able to comment on the interventions on line with a view to the interventions being amended as a result of community and Council stakeholder comments and made permanent in the latter stages of the project.
Project Centre organised a series of community events over the Summer including a youth activation event, dance bus and yarn bombing. These events aimed to encourage interaction on the street and re-engage users with the space in advance of a co-design exercise in September called Crafternoon.
Crafternoon provided the platform for the two artists to engage with the community in the development of these proposals. The artist working on the lighting intervention developed lightboxes where future fictional business logos could be installed. The community worked on potential designs for the lighting boxes at the Crafternoon.
The artist developing the paving treatment used a paint product which remains intact until an enzyme is added to the mix and then it can easily be jet-washed off. This material has enabled a temporary paint treatment to be used on one of the alleyways with the ability to amend or remove if required. In the longer term the intervention will be installed in Terrazzo paving once the comments from the engagement have been reviewed. The community, at the Crafternoon, were invited to develop elements that were then installed in the temporary paint.
By involving the community in the development of the artwork they understand how the work has developed and there is a sense of ownership and shared experience which ensures their buy-in to the project and the long-term success of the installations.