Gateway Centres Public Art Scheme
In January 2007, Salford City Council's Art Development Service was commissioned to manage a public art programme for three new health and social care buildings. Salford was one of six national pilots for the Local Initiative Finance Trust (LIFT). Known as Gateway Centres, the buildings serve as local hubs for community health services. Salford was the first local authority in the country to combine several services all under one roof, including public library and information service as well as Salford Direct call centre functions.
The public art scheme was designed to enhance the brand new spaces and engage local people in the creation of the work, engendering a sense of ownership of the new buildings.
Artists Stella Corrall, Rob Vale and Stephen Charnock were commissioned to create a piece of artwork for each building, using ideas generated by the local community. The artists spoke to over three hundred people of all ages in shopping centres, schools, colleges, health centres, community centres and youth clubs. The Artists engaged local people in creative activities using film, animation, sculpture and creative writing to explore people's ideas for the designs.
Artists Rob Vale and Stella Corrall worked together to create an artwork for the Pendleton Gateway which accommodates children's health services. They wanted to create an artwork that would be relevant and inspiring to children. Many people they spoke to asked for the artwork to change in some way. People also talked about the secret garden in the church, near to where the new Gateway was being built. The artists combined these ideas, together with their desire to explore the different levels of the atrium space.
Three 'ribbons' travel the length of the atrium, merging and twisting in bright, bold brushstrokes. The 'ribbons' disappear from views and reappear above and below the walkways which cross through the space. Along the route a series of coloured lights ripple and flow across the plastic forms, animating the sculpture and continually changing.
The community engagement activities revealed a clear fondness for the original library's architectural form and detail. The artists reflected this in the artwork for the Gateway. In particular focusing on the stained glass, organic scroll and leaf forms, alongside the sense of space and the discovery of small details. The geographical development of Eccles from a small village, through to an industrial landscape is also represented.
The artwork reaches out with sculpted plastic fronds from a central point in the atrium. There is around fifty fronds, each with a plastic 'pod' containing an LCD screen showing images from around Eccles. The shape reflects the organic scroll and leaf shapes in the original library.
Artist Stephen Charnock worked with the people of Walkden to create a vibrant and innovative work of art. When asked what was unique about Walkden, many people responded that it was the people of Walkden that give it a unique identity. Many welcomed the new Walkden Gateway as a positive step towards regenerating the town centre. People were keen to see a work of art which was forward looking and modern.
Stephen developed the design around the DNA double helix, reflecting the idea that local people are the DNA that makes Walkden unique. The intertwining strands are a symbol of the Primary Care Trust and Salford City Council services coming together in one building. DNA is also a bank of information, as is Salford Direct and Walkden library.
The artwork incorporates new technology to share the words of local people spiralling around the sculpture in a continuous flow of red lights, just as blood flows round the body.