Introducing award winning designer and artist Richard Wolfströme, whose public artworks can be seen dotted around Newhaven and indeed around many locations in the UK, from Brighton to Hackney to name a few.
With 35 years of experience, Richard specialises in holistic wayfinding and cultural placemaking where he creates designs and art for buildings, urban environments, parks and landscapes.
He’s recently worked with Newhaven Enterprise Zone to deliver artworks in Avis Way at the business and industrial estate.
You’ve produced a fair bit of work for Newhaven. What is it about the town that inspires you?
I love the nature of the town – it’s industrial and robust – honest and authentic – with a strong design and artistic culture and ambition that underlies its greater potential.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about Newhaven?
How creative and artistic it is.
What’s Newhaven’s best kept secret?
The Sidings café at Railway Quay. It’s a great location by the river, mixed with Newhaven’s industrial heritage. It feels natural and ‘real’ – a friendly place with excellent food and coffee. My wife and I have made a weekend breakfast trip there on occasion (from Hove) so it’s certainly a destination for us!
What’s your favourite place in Newhaven?
I’m not sure it’s so easy to define a single ‘favourite place’. At the moment I feel that Newhaven is very much a ‘sum-of-its-parts’ and whilst there are certainly places that need much attention countered by places that are very appealing, my sense is that one should take Newhaven in its entirety to get ‘it’. It has many ‘faces’ and, from my experience, there is an absolute passion and ambition for the place from the people that live and work there.
A lot of your work elevates urban areas and enhances our experience of those spaces. Why is it important that councils invest in creative ways to link people to places?
I believe that we need to encourage citizens and communities to venture out and about; to experience their places in the ‘real world’ and by adding a level of creativity through public art, experiential wayfaring and design, it gives us and them an opportunity to celebrate their places and spaces. Let’s experience life in ‘ordinary reality’ and reduce living our lives, oftentimes, through our screens.
Can you tell us about your work for Newhaven – the brief, the strategy behind it, what you hope it will achieve?
I was originally approached to look at how we can make connections throughout Newhaven to encourage its citizens and visitors to connect to Newhaven through wayfaring trails, public art and narratives – historic and contemporary. For Newhaven I felt a bold approach was possible that reflected its industrial and creative nature in which people are able to connect with and build on their appreciation of Newhaven.
Why is urban art so important?
When done well it can simply connect us to place and community – to give us a moment of pause and reflection – perhaps to make us smile or laugh out loud and something that might even move us to tears. It connects us on a human and emotional level – an opportunity to be human and present, and hopefully an opportunity to take a pause from the screens that we are often ‘chained to’ in and out of the office!
Do you think Newhaven has potential as a hub for creatives? If so, why?
I think it is already – just needs to shout louder!
What would you like to see happen next in Newhaven from a creative and business point of view?
For it be a place to go – to visit – to collaborate – to be inspired.
What’s it like working with the Newhaven Enterprise Zone – what do you make of their ambitions for the town?
Absolutely fantastic. Both Corinne and Michelle are wonderful to work with and both have an inspired and ambitious vision for the town. It is this team that carries the momentum to get things done – for creative solutions that make Newhaven a destination and a place to visit, live and work.
Have you any more work in the pipeline for Newhaven or elsewhere?
Possibly for Newhaven. And yes, I am working across the country, including projects for Bognor Regis, Brighton, Hove, Gloucester, Llangollen, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Hackney to name a few…