Derby sculptor set to reveal Castleward with Public Art Commission

International Artists, Sculpture Works, have been selected to co-ordinate the Public Arts Strategy for Derby city’s £100m Castleward redevelopment.

Artists Denis O’Connor and Bernardine Rutter, of Sculpture Works, have been commissioned by Compendium Living to create a series of site-specific artworks for Castleward, after the regeneration specialists teamed up with QUAD to select artists whose work would engage local residents and visitors.

The Castleward redevelopment will see 30 acres of land between Derby Midland Station and the Westfield shopping centre redeveloped to provide sustainable new homes and businesses.

Denis, who is based in Wirksworth, Derbyshire and specialises in the design and fabrication of site-specific ‘landmark’ steel sculptures, comments: “I am very delighted about being awarded the Castleward commission and I am looking forward to the challenge of co-ordinating the design, fabrication and installation of the public art elements for this project and the cultural contribution it will make to the city of Derby.

“This is one of Derby’s major public realm projects in terms of how it will enhance the route between the station and the city centre. This will create major improvements to how the route functions and we feel very privileged to be part of such an important project.

“We have set out to work with the concept ‘Revealing Castleward’ and how this can be successfully achieved through creating a series of site-specific, visually dynamic public artworks.
“Working with a number of forms we have decided to focus on creating a collection of sculptural ‘chairs’.

“The ‘chair’ motif originates from a domestic context, it sets out to create an illusion of the familiar, they will function as a place for commuters to rest, but most importantly they are about exploring, investigating cast artefacts and text which will be embedded into the surface of the chairs; these artefacts and texts will reveal the story of Castleward.

“The project is not just about the art; it is as much about the users of the site, the experience of walking the new boulevard from station to city centre and vice versa.

“We have set out to design art works which do not stand alone as ‘additions’ to the site; they are designed to be site specific and internal to the fabric, structure and function of the new boulevard.”

The collection of chairs will range in scale from 500mm to four metres in height, will be made from stainless steel and include casts made from bronze.

Sculpture Works has previously produced work for a variety of public and private organisations such as the City Councils of Cardiff, Belfast, Leicester, Newcastle, Cork, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent as well as organisations such as the Burghley Sculpture Trust, Royal Mail, British Airways, Sure Start, National Trust, Morrisons and Strata Homes.

Neil Walker, Project Manager for Compendium Living, comments: “We have selected a concept that really echoes our vision for Castleward; we want to create a welcoming place that people want to visit and will enjoy being a part of, and the design from Denis and Bernardine will really help us to do that.

“It is our vision to bring positive change to the heart of Derby and we will engage with people who already use the area to ensure Castleward offers benefits to a wide range of local residents and businesses.

“We think the inclusion of these sculptures along Castleward’s new boulevard will help give the area a new identity and encourage people to enjoy the boulevard and the space around it more.”

Keith Jeffrey, Chief Executive Officer at QUAD, comments: “As Derby’s centre for arts, we put out a public call to our network of artists and asked them to submit proposals for the project.

“We assisted Compendium Living with the short listing, interview and selection process; the artists were very open-minded and there were some really interesting ideas that were put forward, one involving a creative lighting project and another with a heritage connection to Lombe’s Mill.

“However, taking into account the concept of Castleward, that it will be somewhere people want to live and work, we all felt sculpture would be the most appropriate medium.

“Sculpture Works’ proposal to create a series of stainless steel chairs in various sizes is perfect, they are simple, solid designs, they are practical and low maintenance, allowing the public to use them and engage with them.

“This will help Castleward feel more connected to the city centre, creating something that welcomes people and creates a real sense of place which will be fantastic for Derby.”

Find out more about the project and meet the artists at a special open event being held at the Castleward Project Office, on Canal Street, from 10am to 4pm on the 4th and 5th October.

Work on phase one of the redevelopment, which covers approximately five acres of land, has recently begun and will include 163 residential units, approximately 16,500sqft of commercial space, a boulevard and a new urban park.

In total, Compendium Living’s plans for Castleward include 800 new homes and 34,500sqft of commercial space, while the existing footpath leading from Derby Midland Station to Westfield will be transformed into a contemporary, tree-lined boulevard.

More information on the future of Castleward can be found at or by calling Compendium Living on 01332 370885.

Media enquiries:
Compendium Living – Hannah Elwell or Sarah Ross, 0116 247 1777,