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Irwell Sculpture Trail

Artist's Brief


The Irwell Valley Way is an existing trail which stretches from Manchester through Salford, Bury and into Rossendale. In 1993, a sculpture trail was established at the Rossendale end of the Way. The concept of a Sculpture Trail on the length of the Way has been supported by the National Lottery and, over the next five years, fifty environmental art projects will be carried out. With the Irwell Vale residency, the Chatterton artist in residence, in addition to the local effects (see aims below), will be a key linking project between the existing stretch of the Trail in Rossendale and the first year projects in north Bury.

Rossendale has a history of public sculpture projects and until recently was home for the ceramics company Raku Works. Some of these sculptures have generated heated debate within the valley. The Local Authority views this as a healthy contribution to the cultural development of the Valley and aims to encourage the involvement of the community in the creation and siting of the sculptures in the Borough and seeks to develop a sense of pride and ownership through their involvement.

Aims of the Residency

Community involvement - the Rossendale Council is encouraging greater local involvement in countryside and arts activities as a key element in its Access and Rural Arts Strategies. This includes commitment to access and opportunity - the Council will endeavour to increase involvement in the project as a whole with particular emphasis on the needs of the less mobile groups such as young people, old people and those on low incomes becoming involved and gaining access to the countryside and cultural activities.

Artistic and Countryside awareness - the Council wish to raise people's awareness of the value of the countryside and of art as a commentary and contribution to the enhancement of the environment; both visitors and the countryside stand to benefit from a greater sense of understanding amongst people and how the countryside has been fashioned and how it functions today. Such understanding can lead to deeper sense of enjoyment for the visitor, a greater sensitivity to countryside matters and a community commitment to countryside conservation.

Objectives of the Residency

  1. To bring a practising artist into Rossendale to work with local groups to produce innovative work and to participate in the creation of part of the Irwell Sculpture Trail.
  2. The artist will produce at least one site specific sculpture to remain on permanent display in Irwell Vale. The sculpture will be expected to be in harmony with the landscape.
  3. To raise the awareness of and improve access to sculpture in Rossendale.
  4. To encourage participation both in visual arts and in an understanding of the countryside through workshops and demonstrations.
  5. To increase public appreciation of environmental and public art in Rossendale.

Role of the Artist

The requirement for "residence" can be agreed by negotiation. The nature of the residency will be flexible depending on the kind of work the artist intends to produce - for example, the artwork may require fabrication by the artist using specialist equipment elsewhere or involve manufacture by a third party. However, the artist must be committed to working with local groups, running workshops and demonstrations as well as producing their own work. Over the residency period, the artist will be expected to involve working with local groups (schools, colleges, youth clubs, residents' groups, etc.) running workshops or giving talks. The artist will need to be sensitive to the needs and experience of the groups and will be expected to arrange materials and equipment appropriate for the context. A timetable of community contact time will be negotiated between the artist and project arts officer at the earliest opportunity; this may include collaborating with other artists in festivals or collective environmental interventions.

The artist will be expected to work with natural materials to create at least one sculpture with a minimum life of five years. The work may have a function such as seating or a play sculpture.

The artist will co-operate with any promotional work, exhibitions, production of intrepretive or documentary items. In the process of working with the community and in creation of their work, the artist will be expected to document their residency photographically or through other appropriate means using the budget allocated.


At this section along the Way there is a particularly attractive scene with a long gently curving wide river with a steep slope down to the Way on the east bank and a large level field on the west bank. This gives an appearance of an amphitheatre. The main site is on the western river bank on the inside of the curving river making it visible for a long section of the Way. There may also be an opportunity for a play sculpture at a nearby playground beside the Way.

The artist will be encouraged to respond to the local environment and in participatory consultation with local residents select the most appropriate site of the main art work.

The main site is owned by Uni-form (supporters of the project) and the playground is in Council ownership.

Workbase and Equipment

The artist will have access to an indoor workspace with lighting, power and running water. Lock up facilities will be provided to secure work. Tables and chairs for workshops will be available. The artist will be expected to provide all her/his own hand and power tools.

Outdoor space may be available next to the workbase and "on site" work can be arranged. Some groups may have difficulty in visiting the workbase - if required the artist should be available to visit these groups.


A reasonable materials budget of up to £10,000 will be made available for sculpture and workshops. The majority of this budget is expected to go towards the main sculpture for the Trail. The purchase of materials must be agreed with the designated Officer from Rossendale BC. Artist will be expected to work with natural materials. It is worth noting that there is a tradition of quarrying in the area.

Some materials may be available from local businesses and also from non-commercial tree felling from various countryside agencies. There is also a pool of volunteer labour accessible through Rossendale Groundwork.

Whatever media is favoured by the artist, the sculpture is expected to have minimum life of five years and be practical to maintain. The artist will be expected to draft maintenance guidelines. The finished sculptures will be the property of Rossendale Borough Council.


The fee for each residency is£8,000 plus materials budget (see below). The artist will be expected to be self employed and so responsible for his/her own National Insurance, income tax and public liability contributions. This fee is inclusive of all living costs, travelling expenses, etc. Help will be offered to the successful applicant in finding suitable living accommodation if required. The insurance for the workbase and workshop participants will be covered by the host local authority.

The budget is as follows:

Artist Fee8,000
Documentation/Evaluation 500
Vehicle Plant hire300

However, the apportionment of expenditure can be negotiated as appropriate with the Lead Officer.


The artist will be supported by a project team comprising the Irwell Sculpture Trail Project Officer, LCC Public Art Officer plus Officers of Rossendale Leisure Services and Rossendale Groundwork Trust.