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Dudley Council the historic capital of the Black Country
Dudley Skyline

Public Art can play an important role in the regeneration of our urban and rural areas: it can enhance buildings, civic spaces, or even major transport schemes.

What is public art?

Artwork can range from the large scale, such as highway sculptures – to the small scale, such as decorative brickwork or sculptural entrances, and can involve a wide variety of techniques.

The community can directly participate in projects, such as a park entrance mosaic; and the psychological benefits of artwork to those in hospital or clinical environments have been well documented.

Dudley borough is proud of its local heroes and has celebrated their lives in projects commemorating footballer Duncan Edwards, actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke, film director James Whale and comedian Billy Dainty among others.

Why public art?

Public art provides appropriate art in a range of environments.

Benefits can include:

  • an improved sense of wellbeing through sensitively constructed or therapeutic environments such as hospital gardens or clinical areas.
  • something as simple and necessary as sensitive lighting, beautifully (and locally) constructed pathways, fences, or doors - all of which create artistically enhanced and integrated architectural essentials.
  • adding quality and distinctiveness to projects, captivating the imagination of those who see the work and instilling in them a sense of civic pride.
  • it also creates employment opportunities for regional artists, craftspeople, manufacturers and technical staff.

Artist Steve Field works with schools, colleges and communities, creating art to suit their needs. This work also helps to inspire the next generation of artists, designers and fabricators.

Steve has national and international links which have helped to raise the profile of the Borough as a creative area: commissions have in the past been executed by invited artists from China, Romania and Holland.

The borough artist

Dudley is one of the few local authorities in the country to have its own public artist.  The post provides in-house advice and expertise to develop public art initiatives. The main elements of the role are to design, procure, execute, head and develop art within the borough.

The post within the Public Art Unit of Dudley Council has operated for nearly 20 years and been recognised at a national level. It has collected awards such as the National Art Collections Fund Award for an outstanding contribution to the creation of art ‘outside the gallery’, and the Royal Society of Arts ‘Art for Architecture’ Award.

The role is currently held by Steve Field who has worked for Dudley Council for 20 years after stints with BBC Pebble Mill, Birmingham, and freelancing to produce public art across the country. He studied at Sheffield University and Wolverhampton Polytechnic and has degrees in architecture and a masters degree in fine art.

Funding

The role of the public artist is self-funded through a trading account. This means that income is generated through commissions, and through providing services like bid writing, art and restoration advice.  Many of the projects are funded by specialist grants and not from the tax payer.

Advisory services

As well as the direct design and creation of artworks, the Public Art Unit can provide other advice, for example, the organisation of public art competitions, the production of art strategy documents; or general research, illustrated talks and tours of public art.

If you think a piece of public art will add value to your project please do get in touch.

Blue Plaques in the borough

We recognise that borough residents want to remember and honour the deceased or a significant event in a public way, we manage this through the commemorative plaque scheme (blue plaques).