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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). Please see below for information on current plaques in the borough. 

Bill Dainty 22/02/1927 - 19/11/1986

  • William Hooper Frank John (Billy) Dainty was a British comedian, dancer, physical comedian and pantomime and TV star.
  • Dainty was born at Wolverhampton Street, Dudley, the son of a shopkeeper who was based in a shop at the front of the family home.
  • His plaque is located at Dudley Concert Hall and was erected on 21st January 2007.

William Shenstone 18/11/1714 - 11/02/1763

  • An English poet and one of the first developers of landscape gardening through the development of The Leasowes, which was his estate.
  • His plaque is located at the entrance to Halesowen Golf Club near the Leasowes and was erected 15th November 2007.

Dolly Allen 09/04/1906 - 25/06/1990

  • Dolly Allen was born Doris Evelyn Baugh, at Wordsley Workhouse.
  • She met her husband Leonard Allen while working at Hackett Brothers’ nut and bolt works in Victoria Street and they were married in 1926 at Stourbridge Register Office.
  • It was at the age of 69, in 1975, that Ray Hingley invited Dolly to join the team of the Black Country Night Out. She was an instant hit and from that came records and appearances on television and radio.
  • Her plaque is located at Brierley Hill Civic Hall and was erected June 22nd 2008. 

Sir Cedric Hardwicke 19/02/1893 - 06/08/1964

  • Hardwicke was born in the village of Lye was a notable English actor. Hardwicke is remembered by a sculpture by Tim Tolkien at Lye, commissioned by Dudley Council.
  • The memorial takes the form of a giant filmstrip, the illuminated cut metal panels illustrating scenes from some of Sir Cedric's best-known roles. It was unveiled in November 2005. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Clarkson Rose 08/12/1890 - 23/04/1968

Born in Dudley, Worcestershire in 1890 as Arthur C. Rose. He began his career as “A.C Rose- Comedian”, making his first appearance on stage in 1905 at the Mechanics Institute, Dudley. And later forming his own concert party. He was later to present his own Summer Show “Twinkle” at seaside resorts for over forty years.

His plaque is located at Dudley Concert Hall and was erected 21st January 2007.