Commemorative sculpture is set to take centre stage in Dishforth

A distinctive stone sculpture, carved by Yorkshire stonemason Steve Roche, is set to take pride of place on public open space at a newly completed development in Dishforth.

Reflecting the area’s history, the public artwork will be installed near Topcliffe Road, where 15 for affordable rent and seven for shared ownership have been provided by Stonewater in partnership with residential developer Newett Homes.

In tribute to the key role played by nearby RAF Dishforth air base during the Second World War, the artwork depicts the commemorative ‘missing man formation’ aerial salute, with an empty space where one plane should be to symbolise the loss of a person or people.

The sculpture includes carved maple leaves, in memory of the Canadian airmen based at Dishforth who lost their lives during the war.

It also features a poem written by BBC Radio York's poet laureate Olivia Mulligan, who ran poetry workshops at Dishforth Village Primary and Dishforth Airfield Primary schools so she could incorporate the children’s ideas into her finished piece.

Sculptor Steve, from Sheffield, said: “There is a lot of change happening to the built environment in Dishforth, so this project is an opportunity to acknowledge the past and mark a positive change for the future.

“The sculpture started with a rough eight-ton block of Peak Moor sandstone. It’s the biggest thing I’ve worked on and I’ve removed close to one-and-a-half tons of it by hand.

“It’s taken since the end of February to find the form in the stone, but it is now a really handsome piece. I hope the local community will come and have a look, and have a read of the poem on it – once it’s installed.”

Sarah Cook, Project Officer at Stonewater, said: “It’s been great to work on this beautiful development of much-needed affordable homes for local people in the delightful village of Dishforth.

“Steve’s amazing sculpture is a fitting focal point for this scheme, as an attractive piece of public art, a symbol of the airfield’s place in history and a moving tribute to those who lost their lives in wartime.”

Working in partnership with Harrogate Borough Council, Stonewater’s homes have been built by Newett Homes as part of a wider 56-home development, The Meadows.

Will Newett, Director at Newett Homes, said: “We’re delighted to work in partnership with Stonewater, which allows the housing association to offer a selection of affordable rent and shared ownership homes at our development in Dishforth. The new sculpture, a beautiful and thought-provoking piece of art, will help forge a sense of pride for everyone in The Meadows community.”

The housing provider has a longstanding commitment to installing thought-provoking public art at its developments, underlined by its launch of the national George Blunden Public Art Prize last year.

West Midlands artists Bryn Hallett and Mark Rousseau won the competition’s £75,000 prize, along with the commission to develop installations at five new Stonewater schemes.