Public art has been officially unveiled near a new housing development on the outskirts of a North Yorkshire market town.
The outdoor work is now on permanent display having been incorporated into Mulberry Homes Yorkshire’s development (known as The Oaks) at Sowerby, near Thirsk.
It includes a 6.5-foot high acorn sculpture, created by sculptor Hilary Cartmel, and four carved boulder stones which reflect local heritage and the sustainability theme of the entire Sowerby Art Project.
Fourteen steel and bronze way-marker posts are also being installed throughout the development with three more on the extra care scheme across the road. These are aimed at ‘signposting’ the pedestrian routes through the new Sowerby Gateway.
Forming part of the Sowerby Gateway Public Art Strategy, the Sowerby Art project was led by North Yorkshire-based Chrysalis Arts who put together a team of artists to create the artworks. The local community were heavily involved throughout the duration of the project.
Speaking at the official unveiling of the first pieces of artwork, Andrew Garrens, from Mulberry Homes Yorkshire, said: “This marks years of hard work which started when Mulberry Homes Yorkshire received funding of just over £58,000 from the Arts Council, and invested a further £95,000, to make this project a reality.
“The artwork is fantastic and with The Oaks now almost complete we are delighted to be leaving behind something that will be enjoyed by generations of people.  Those who have been involved can be very proud of what they have achieved. ”
During the development of the sculpture named ‘Cherish Life’, which is sited on a new grassed area on Topcliffe Road, Hilary Cartmel consulted with local groups to generate ideas and poetry about local sustainability and this led to the concept of the acorn and oak leaf with galls. Hilary ran a series of workshops with local groups to create the round patterns for casting the galls in bronze which are mounted on one side of the stainless-steel oak leaf.
Micheal Disley led a ‘School of Rock’ which led to six local people carving their own designs into the ‘Sowerby Stones’, four blocks of Yorkshire sandstone that are situated opposite the sculpture.. The community carving sessions were based at Thirsk Garden Centre over several months.  The images reflect what the carvers felt was special about the locality
Children from Thirsk School worked with lead artist Kate Maddison to come up with the designs for steel and cast bronze way-markers made by blacksmiths from Little Newsham Forge and representing the five elements of the sustainability theme: air, earth, fire, water and culture.
Kate, from Chrysalis Arts, said: “These artworks form part of a collection of public art planned for Sowerby Gateway and the artists really value the support of the local community; their input and hard work has been inspirational.
“This artwork is rooted in this part of North Yorkshire, with sustainability the key theme and it signals the beginning of a new settlement at Sowerby Gateway.”
Sowerby Art is a partnership between Mulberry Homes Yorkshire and Chrysalis Arts, with support from Hambleton District Council, Arts Council England, Sowerby Parish Council and Thirsk-based Rural Arts.