Sarah Staton 'Alphonso' Newton Leys public folly Image supplied by ALBANY ARTS

A public folly honouring brick-making is to be unveiled this Saturday (18 September 2021).

Created by artist Sarah Staton, the work, entitled Alphonso, is located in Newton Leys and takes inspiration from its local heritage, including the brickworks.

The unveiling on Saturday is a public celebration where families can meet the artist, learn about the sculpture’s local inspirations and enjoy refreshments provided by Milton Keynes Council.

The folly is sited on a mound beside a lake and surrounded by a new housing development, which was originally a brickworks. One essential part of the commission was to reference the brick-making history of Newton Leys and how it is today. Sarah said:

“Early on in the design process, I thought Alphonso would look most interesting if handmade bricks were used on the east elevation, creating a richly nuanced speckled brown surface, and that this would be complemented with fresh blue and white tiles on the west side.

“The lake is referenced pictorially. I had been very struck by the way that blue and white tiling is used on cathedrals and churches in Portugal to create the illusion of transparency when viewed from a distance against the sky.”

Staton’s work has become increasingly prominent and admired in the UK over the past decade, presenting a beguiling mixture of traditional craft techniques with cutting edge technology.

Her grounded sculptural forms occupy an edgy aesthetic territory between use value and sheer visual pleasure.

She has created large-scale works for the Folkestone Triennial in 2014, and a brickwork sculpture, Edith and Hans, for Bristol University in 2016., a work that was conceived as being somewhere between a ruin and an archaeological find.

Alphonso forms part of Milton Keynes Council’s ongoing Public Art commissioning programme — since the town’s inception in the 1960s, more than 250 artworks have been created, all of them within the public realm.

Alphonso is a triangular, three-sided structure built from wood-fired brick and incorporates a bespoke hand-painted tiled wall inspired by Azulejos tiling, depicting the local area, its wildlife and history.

The artwork’s name is a reference to the many Italians who worked at the brickworks.

It is sited on a spot called Little Callow Mound, Willow Lake, Newton Leys, Bucks and includes a decorative archway and seating area, which overlooks Willow Lake and the environment around it.

Deputy leader of MK Council and cabinet member responsible for culture, Cllr Robin Bradburn, said:

“This is an exciting new addition to the rich and diverse portfolio of public art across Milton Keynes, and I can’t wait to see Alphonso in its home in Newton Leys.

“Local people have played a significant role in the development of this cultural project, and we’re grateful for all their time and commitment in ensuring the work is reflective of its new community and its heritage.”