Shell-ter takes an environmentally responsible approach to the creation of artwork, exploring ideas with a slow art ethos. The fibonacci spiral and domed structure expresses the themes of; creation and destruction, growth and decay, material reuse, natural and human habitat. It provides a shelter in the Eco Centre garden for small creatures like insects and lizards. Shell-ter will continue to evolve over time and in the longer-term, the bricks and tiles can again be reused.

The sculpture by public artist Kate Maddison is made from glazed ceramic tiles and bricks donated by Chrysalis Arts and salvaged from Shaws of Darwen when they still made traditional architectural terracotta. Kate worked with expert dry-stone wallers; Philip Dolphin and Anthony Whitaker to build the sculpture, with the assistance of Darren Lloyd from Southport Eco Centre and volunteer Jamie Marsh. Members of the local arts community from Southport Contemporary Arts added their ceramic artworks.

Shell-ter connects with the Nautilus water sculpture on Lord Street, also by Kate Maddison, Chrysalis Arts, and celebrates the town’s sculpture, arts and crafts architecture and Southport Eco Centre’s mission to raise awareness of coastal sustainability. It was created in May 2019 as part of The Art UK Sculpture Project, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.


Sowerby Art Map

Sowerby Art Map 2017 A4

Free Art Trail Map (click above) to find and identify seventeen Art Waymarkers at Sowerby designed by Kate Maddison and made by artisan blacksmiths Little Newsham Forge and featuring bronze discs cast from ten patterns made by Thirsk School Pupils inspired by the natural elemental forces of; Fire, Earth, Air Water, Culture.

The Public Artworks at Sowerby celebrate the aspiration for a sustainable future and reflect local heritage.  Located near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 3HF, this growing collection includes: Spiral & Pergola at Aldi Public Realm Space on Topcliffe Road, the acorn sculpture ‘Cherish Life’ and the community carved ‘Sowerby Stones’ on the grassed area off Topcliffe Road near Gravel Hole Lane and seventeen Art Waymarkers that mark the pedestrian paths through the new housing estate. This is part of Hambleton District Council’s Public Art Strategy.

Spiral & Pergola News

Spiral and Pergola, new public artworks by Chrysalis Arts for Sowerby, have been installed at the public realm space to the north end of Aldi on Topcliffe Road, Sowerby near Thirsk. An Open Day Event on Saturday 4th November celebrated the opening of this new public amenity.

Spiral represents a fragment of time moving forward in its cyclical passage to the future. The eight metre long flowing sculpture is made of about eighty oak slabs laid side by side. Standing vertically at each end, they twist horizontally at the centre where a lowered section forms a platform to rest on.

Pergola has a geometric roof that rises and falls, echoing Spiral’s wave motion and is placed over a circular ground finish, aligned with Spiral. Made of locally sourced oak and larch wood, Pergola frames the Aldi Public Realm Space, a social meeting point and marks the new Cycle and Pedestrian path like the portal effect of a group of trees, a traditional way to mark a route.

Spiral and Pergola Open Day Event was a great success; Thirsk Community Woodland Group and local families made bird, bat and insect boxes, there was a chance for the public to talk to artist Kate Maddison of Chrysalis Arts who designed the Spiral and Pergola and meet Sessay based Ben Chester whose artisan company Ben Chester Traditional Crafts Ltd hand-built the artwork from regionally sourced wood. The larch beams and green oak posts are from local estates and milled in Ampleforth, with steel nodes and post bases fabricated in Dalton. The wood will weather to natural silver grey, a similar colour to the galvanised steelwork, and will last for many years.

Sowerby Art

Sowerby Arts final logo

Chrysalis Arts are working with Mulberry Homes to deliver a public art programme for Sowerby Gateway, a new mixed development being built near the Market Town of Thirsk including; housing, a new school, a neighbourhood centre, leisure, retail and commercial premises. The art project has the support of Hambleton District Council and Arts Council England.

Chrysalis Arts has put together a team of artists to create a series of high quality artworks for Sowerby Gateway on the theme of ‘Sustainability’ and the artists have been exploring this concept in a variety of ways using Earth – Air – Fire – Water – Culture as symbols to represent the theme which collectively form Circles of Sustainability.

Lead Artist Kate Maddison designed Sowerby Sun and Spiral Time – Sowerby Clock and as proposals for feature artworks on two new roundabouts. Kate is collaborating with renowned artist blacksmith Brian Russell and his team from Little Newsham Forge to make the sculptures. 

Spiral Time – Sowerby Clock has been installed on the roundabout on Topcliffe Road by Aldi and Premier Inn. It is the latest addition to the growing collection of public art at Sowerby Gateway, the mixed development near Thirsk, North Yorkshire. The sculpture represents a fragment of time at Sowerby moving forward in a cyclical passage to the future, it’s form echoes the mechanism of a clock. Twelve hand forged steel arms are arranged in a spiral around a central spine. They support twelve discs positioned like the numbers on a clock face when seen aligned on approach along Topcliffe Road. The disc images have been developed from the existing image resource created in community workshop sessions depicting sustainability and local heritage.


Spiral Time – Sowerby Clock


The Sowerby Sun represents circles of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and seen on approach from Topcliffe road, the Fire circle appears like the sun, with a Water fish bowl at its centre and Air represented as four bird wind vanes arranged in an interlocking circle. Viewed from the roundabout, the sculpture unfurls into a spiral with twelve radial poles with gold celestial spheres marking the cyclical passage of time. Earth is represented by a sine wave at the base of the spiral which continues beyond the sculpture roundabout, along Topcliffe road possibly in the form of verge planting until it reaches the Acorn Sculpture and Four Carved Boulder Stones representing circles of Culture.

The Acorn Sculpture
 “Cherish Life” has been sited at North Junction, a new grassed area on Topcliffe Road that marks the transition from Sowerby to Sowerby Gateway.

Sculptor Hilary Cartmel consulted with local groups to generate a narrative of ideas about local sustainability and this led to the acorn sculpture ‘Cherish Life’ which includes an oak leaf with galls. She ran a series of workshops with local youth groups to create the round patterns for casting the galls in bronze which are mounted on one side of the stainless steel oak leaf.

Stone carver Michael Disley
 has developed Four Carved Boulder Stones and led a ‘School of Rock’ where local people carved their own designs relating to local heritage and the sustainability theme into the blocks of Yorkshire sandstone. 

Community Stone Carving – This was a fantastic opportunity for local novice carvers to learn from professional stone carver Michael Disley and create a permanent piece of public art. The designs for the four boulder stones represent different aspects of Sowerby and Thirsk and its surrounding landscape and are by local people who came forward after the carving taster workshop in May 2015. The carving work took place at Thirsk Garden Centre and the finished boulders are installed at the north junction by the cycle and footpaths near the acorn sculpture.

Art Waymarkers to signpost pedestrian routes through Sowerby have been designed and made in a collaboration between; artist Kate Maddison, Thirsk School Pupils, Little Newshm Forge and McArt Studio. The Art Waymarkers are a unique feature of Sowerby Gateway, each displaying imagery that relates to the five elements of the sustainability theme and the community involvement process.

Sowerby Art Exhibition and Public Art Consultation Events

A selection of original print, collage, stone carving and wire work made by members of the community as part of the Sowerby Art Project was on display at the Courthouse from Friday 10th July to Wednesday 22nd July 2015, the artwork explored local sustainability and presented a snapshot view of how local people see Thirsk and Sowerby. A Public Consultation on Public Art for Sowerby Gateway took place at Thirsk and Sowerby Town Hall on Wednesday 22nd July providing an opportunity to view the proposed designs for the public art at Sowerby Gateway.

The communities of Sowerby and Thirsk have become involved through a workshop programme coordinated by local arts organisation Rural Arts. Thirsk School hosted three ‘enlightenment’ and workshop days with Hilary Cartmel and Kate Maddison who worked with 157 pupils and staff  in January and March 2015 and February 2016. From April to June 2015 there has been a Community Programme with opportunities for local groups and schools to participate in workshops led by artists; Andrew Dalton, Helaina Sharpley, Stef Mitchell. There have been 409 participants in the workshop process and many more people have seen the artwork progress through displays at Rural Arts, Thirsk Library, Thirsk Garden Centre and the hoardings at the junction of Gravel Hole Lane and Topcliffe Road, Sowerby Gateway.

Hoarding web IMG_4301

Sowerby Art Hoarding Artwork Display at Sowerby Gateway

Many enthusiastic participants of all ages took part in a stone carving taster day with Michael Disley and the resulting 29 stones with a variety of designs were displayed in Thirsk Garden Centre’s cafe garden area.

Stone carving compilation sm

Sowerby Gateway Plan showing the proposed artwork locations along Topcliffe Road

Sowerby Gateway Site Plan-public art