Randall Close Public Art Strategy

Our Randall Close public art strategy seeks to bring culture and local history to the forefront of a social housing estateextension in Battersea. To coincide with the delivery of these new affordable homes, our strategy comprises site-specific artwork by architectural ceramic artist Maria Gasparian. The first part of our strategy has now been implemented, which has seen Maria and artist and printmaker Augusta Akerman work closely with local students to create two colourful, temporary hoarding artworks, inspired by the 19th Century mosaic tile company formerly located on the site.

The first commission was a collaboration between artists Augusta Akerman and Maria Gasparian, and local young people

We were appointed in Spring 2020 by Wandsworth Council in partnership with The Hill Group, to develop a public art strategy that could help bring a cultural perspective to this new housing development. Providing 100% social housing, the Randall Close development sees just over 100 new homes delivered within the established Surrey Lane Estate.

We worked with the design team to identify where artist commissions could sit within the public realm vision. With the new public realm located at the heart of the wider estate, it was a priority for us and the commissioning client to ensure that the interventions offer value to both the existing and new residents.

The aim of the strategy is to find creative opportunities to support the development’s character and identity, with interventions that can enhance the public realm, improve wayfinding across the estate and bring local heritage to the forefront. The public art interventions will include colourful and playful seating at different heights and scales to encourage social interaction, and incorporate board game markings. Additionally, bespoke colourful motifs embedded within the paving will help to lead people in and out of the development’s central tree filled space – inviting them to interact and engage with the area’s history.

“…very professional, reliable and worked hard to achieve tight deadlines. Susie was very knowledgeable, offered innovative yet deliverable solutions for our Strategy. A pleasure to work with and I would not hesitate to commission her services again.”

Emma Taylor, Battersea Church Road Project Manager
Wandsworth Council

At the core of our approach, we prioritised identifying how local communities could be involved in public art commissions, to help shape our strategy and build ownership. This required a sensitive approach and a considered response to concerns held by some of the local community about the new development.

We therefore proposed targeted community engagement opportunities to gather feedback, and focused on facilitating access for residents to engage with the appointed artist and help input into their proposals.

A ‘Meet the Artist’ session took place, which gave local residents the opportunity to meet Maria and hear about her work and process, as well as share what they would like to see from her commission and what they value in the public realm. This consultation process highlighted a local desire to incorporate decorative board game detailing, which would allow residents to gather and play games in the new public realm, and this will be taken forward.

'Meet the Artist' community engagement
'Meet the Artist' community engagement

We held design team meetings to present a range of project examples, illustrating public art of different types and scales. These prompted a sense of possibility and inspiration and made some of the ideas we were discussing tangible for those unfamiliar with the process of commissioning artists.

Following this, we were able advise on what commissioning steps should takeplace and when, to ensure delivery of the public artworks in line with the wider scheme timelines. For clients, working with artists is often seen as a risk with unknown outcomes. Our approach takes stakeholders on the commissioning journey, to demystify this process, and demonstrate the value of working with artists as part of the team. As a practice, we identify and appoint artists in a variety of ways. In this case, we led an ‘open artist call’ approach that enabled both established and emerging artists to apply, including those based in the local area.

Pages from the Public Art Strategy

Having established our commissioning process and objectives, our research led us to uncover a unique and fascinating heritage.

In addition to a strong industrial river heritage, we discovered that a mosaic and tile craftsman lived and worked in the immediate area throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. Jesse Rust, and later his son Henry Jesse, moved their company to Battersea in 1890, and were well-known and prolific in the production of high-quality mosaic works. One remains locally; the much loved ‘worker bee’ floor in Battersea Arts Centre, the former town hall.

Hoarding artwork inspired by the area's mosaic heritage

The first part of the commission has seen the creation of two large-scale, bespoke temporary hoarding artworks, where a key focus was working collaboratively with local young people.

Named ‘Randall Tesserae’, these colourful and welcoming designs have been created by Maria, alongside printmaker and illustrator Augusta Akerman and St John Bosco College GCSE Art students.

Tesserae are the small pieces of ceramic, stone or glass used to create mosaic tiling. Inspired by the Jesse and Henry Rust Mosaic and Tile Company, students conducted research into local heritage, and learned printmaking techniques to create their own patterns and motifs, which were then integrated together. These were finished using colours that are inspired by the Rust’s earlier colour palette.

Randall Tesserae
Randall Tesserae
Randall Tesserae
Randall Tesserae

This history of ceramic and tile making offered a very rich springboard for public art ideas which are interesting and accessible for the local community to be part of. This led us to commission artist Maria Gasparian.

Maria is an artist and architect with an MA and PHD in Ceramic Design from the University of the Arts London. Her work reimagines traditional brick making using pattern and glaze to create contemporary decorated brick and tile works within public realm design. Maria featured in the London Festival of Architecture in 2018, where she became part of the first cohort of City Bench winners, with a decorative brick bench that was installed in the City of London throughout June. In 2023, the UK Brick Development Association (BDA) commissioned Maria to create a trophy for the annual BDA Brick Awards and she regularly takes part in Clerkenwell Design Week. Randall Close is her first permanent UK public art commission.

Prototypes of bespoke bricks created by Maria Gasparian
Prototypes of bespoke bricks created by Maria Gasparian

Importantly, the project research and process informed the students’ Art GCSE coursework and offered a significant CV opportunity for them to demonstrate their collaboration on a bespoke public realm artwork. The project has helped to forge a positive relationship with this large local secondary school, which is located on the estate.

Randall Tesserae was unveiled in March 2023, to coincide with the wider Randall Close development starting on-site and its ground-breaking ceremony.

“The collaboration with St John Bosco College students and graphic artist Augusta Akerman, exploring important local heritage, resulted in two vibrant hoarding artworks. The project team have been extremely supportive throughout the design process and I look forward to seeing the permanent artwork I am developing come to fruition in 2024.”

Maria Gasparian, Artist


Maria is now working to develop designs for permanent colourful artworks that will complete the public art strategy for the area, forming central elements to the new public space at the Randall Close housing development. The final works will be installed in 2024 as part of the completion of the new landscaping. Designs for the seating and wayfinding elements will be informed by Maria’s research and engagement with the local community as well as consideration of how to activate the public realm and bring elements that are welcoming and uplifting for all ages.


Wandsworth, London
London Borough of Wandsworth & The Hill Group
Photography by Benjamin Hughes

Next Project Previous Project