Winchester-backed public art wins national award

A public art project that started in Winchester and was part-funded by the City Council has won a major national award.

The Observatory, launched in 2015 in the grounds of Winchester Science Centre at Morn Hill and which spent its first six months there, has lifted a prestigious Civic Trust Award for 2016.

The award recognises ‘projects that make an outstanding contribution to the quality and appearance of the environment. Award-level schemes must demonstrate excellence in architecture or design, sustainability, universal design and make a positive social, cultural, environmental or economic benefit to the local community.’

The Observatory project was set up to create a space for a series of artist residencies where the public could see them at work and engage with them, the structure itself and the surrounding landscape.

The Council convened the very first meeting to discuss the idea, which was the brainchild of Hampshire-based public realm specialists SPUD, bringing on board partners from Winchester Science Centre and the South Downs National Park. It went on to play an important role, hosting the shortlisting exhibition when designs for the Observatory were submitted by architects and artists all over the UK. The eventual launch in January 2015 was presided over by the then-Mayor, Cllr Eileen Berry. The City Council also compiled the application that resulted in the Civic Trust Award.

Eloise Appleby, the City Council’s Assistant Director (Economy & Communities), said:

I am delighted that this eye-catching and innovative project which was born in Winchester has gone on to win a much-deserved Civic Trust Award. I look forward to more projects of this kind that are ‘made in Winchester’ and draw national attention to the cultural life of this vibrant and exciting district.

The project can currently be seen at Lymington on the Hampshire coast where it is located on the footpath along the sea-wall in Keyhaven Nature Reserve. It has already attracted significant funding from Arts Council England and generous sponsorship from a range of private companies including James Latham, and is waiting for news on a second Arts Council bid to support its onward journey to two more locations in Hampshire and the south-west.

The Civic Trust Awards are due to be hosted at Guildhall Winchester in 2017.