These pictures show what new art coming to Andover could be like as Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) recommended hundreds of thousands of pounds be set aside for public artworks in town

At a cabinet meeting, councillors voted in favour of allocating funds towards art projects in the town centre, Picket Twenty and Picket Piece. This includes new artworks such as an art trail and art wall, as well as the “rejuvenation” of existing artworks such as the Poetry in Motion Trail.

Councillor Ian Jeffrey, TVBC portfolio holder for community and leisure, said that the plans were a “no brainer” as they are funded from developer contributions, and these funds would otherwise be returned to the developers.

The money for the public art comes from Section 106 contributions, which are agreements between local authorities and housing developers to make a development acceptable by putting certain conditions on it, including restrictions on land use and the contribution of funds for public amenities.

In August 2020, TVBC advertised the commissions for public art across the UK, and received 16 applications. Each project was then shortlisted to six, with a few candidates then invited to present their work before a decision was made.

Following this, £27,000 has been allocated to Svetlana Kondakova to produce a sculpture for Picket Piece, and £69,000 for Tim Ward to produce an arts trail in Picket Twenty.

Svetlana is an Edinburgh-based artist who works in a range of media including 3D-modelling, sculpting and upcycling. She has worked previously on six public art projects for bodies in Scotland.

Her proposed artwork is to be designed with the help of the community, and she said that she would take residents’ inspiration for the location, shape, colours and details of the design.

Following consultations with local people, she said she will go to young people’s groups such as the Picket Piece Toddler Group to allow them to select the shape of the sculpture based on sculpting workshops she will hold. These will then be shared and voted on by the community, who will then have the opportunity to decorate small models of the shape which she will use to decide what colours and features the sculpture should have.

An indicative model given in her application is of a bird decorated in blue and yellow to reflect the kit colours of Andover Town FC. It is also covered in symbols such as trees and hands reaching out to demonstrate what is important to the Picket Piece community.

Tim Ward, meanwhile, is an Essex-based artist who works across mediums including steel, glass and stone. He plans an art trail that would encourage residents “to explore and engage with their surroundings” before finishing in a sculpture in Picket Twenty’s urban park.

Plans for the trail and the sculpture would be developed with residents of the area, and would also feature waymarkers to direct those using it.

Faye Perkin, Art officer for TVBC, said: “We’ve gone through the recruitment and selection process with steering groups that are formed of residents, councillors, and officers.

“They’ve come up with the artists we feel are really strong in supporting the aims of our public art strategy about really engaging with the community at its core to help us develop work that is very site specific and is developed with the community for the community in these new spaces.”

Cllr Jeffrey said that the cabinet should support the plans, saying: “The only options here are to support the recommendations or the Section 106 contributions will go back to the developer so to me it’s what they call a no brainer.”

A further £50,000 has been allocated in the budget for proposed future artworks in the town centre. This includes £10,000 for the Four Fun Fridays arts festival, £20,000 for an art wall on Wilko’s facing the Town Mills Riverside Park, and £20,000 to “relaunch” the Poetry in Motion trail with new artwork, a poetry festival and a new guide.

Referencing light being made of contractors accidentally installing benches in the riverside park to face the wall rather than the river, which has now been corrected, Cllr David Drew said: “Maybe we should have those benches swivelable so people can turn around and look at that art wall.

“I was also very encouraged to hear about the community engagement as I think that’s very important, as if we don’t engage with the community comprehensively people will feel these artworks are done to them, where if they’re engaged there’s much more of a chance of them accepting them and feeling like they own them.”

Cllr Maureen Flood, meanwhile, said she was looking forward to the “rejuvenation” of the poetry trail, saying she has “fond memories of walking it with my own son when he was young.”

The motion was then put to a vote and passed without dissent. It will now be considered by a TVBC full council meeting.