An unusual hanging artwork has been installed in the atrium of one of the region’s best-known businesses.
North East artist Alison Ashton won a £2,000 commission to create the piece for Newcastle Building Society’s offices at the Cobalt Business Park in North Tyneside.
Staff from the company helped out with producing the work and now it has gone on show as the centrepiece of the building.
Newcastle-based Alison said: “I was attracted to this project because of the strong regional links, a number of my projects are sited around the country so to be able to work on something that’s virtually on my own doorstep was a great opportunity.
“Seeing the atrium space for the first time really inspired me with a number of ideas and I couldn’t wait to start planning.
“It’s such a big and impressive space I wanted to create something that would be eye-catching but would also have meaning.”
Newcastle Building Society presented the brief and display space at their Cobalt offices – where 300 employees are based – to around 20 professional and amateur artists in October. They drew up a shortlist of four finalists, who were then invited to present their ideas to a judging panel which included staff who work in the building.
Alison’s idea Colour Fall – a large dream-catcher-style installation using ribbons and strips of material, sitting alongside five hanging sails of pastel-coloured fabric which represent the Society’s core staff values – was chosen unanimously.
A team of Society volunteers worked with Alison on the commission using giant knitting needles to create woven strips from plastic fabrics to form the hanging sails.
Alison, a freelance theatre designer and arts practitioner, has extensive experience of installations based on commissions, including the well-known fantasy-themed Storytelling Chair at Seven Stories in the city.
She regularly carries out arts workshops in schools, universities, galleries and community centres, as well as artist-in-residency projects. She added: “Being able to involve staff in the creation of the project makes the results even more special.”
Natalie Falkous, head of corporate social responsibility at Newcastle Building Society, added: “We were really pleased with the response we had, and the ideas we received demonstrated an amazing degree of creativity and artistic talent. The new artwork is one of the first things that employees and visitors to our Cobalt office see, and has been designed to symbolise the hopes and dreams that we help fulfil through the provision of mortgages and other products.
“Supporting artists and creative projects across our heartland area is just one of the ways that we translate the principles of our mutual status into direct benefits for the communities in which we work.”
Newcastle Building Society has long been a committed supporter of the North East’s creative communities, having hosted community art exhibitions at a number of its branches, instigated an art competition for locally-based students and commissioned work from several professional regional artists.
It has also run successful, award-winning joint initiatives with cultural organisations including Seven Stories and Northern Stage.