Westbury, Artists Studios in an old farm, Milton Keynes
June 22, 2011
Westbury Farm is one of the hidden treasures of Milton Keynes. This ancient rambling farm has provided a shelter for many artists for more than 30 years and has also become a resting place for either insitu ‘installations’, unfinished, unsuccessful or experimental works which could not reach the desired standards or intended destination by the artists occupying the farm.
The following abstract comes from a case study for Westbury Farm carried out by The Price’s Regeneration Trust.
“Westbury Farm is a 17th century timber framed farmhouse with brick infill and is Grade II listed. Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC) compulsory purchased the farm and farmhouse for development purposes with the intention to develop the site out as part of the masterplan for the new town of Milton Keynes. The farmhouse and land surrounding it today remain undeveloped in the south-west of Milton Keynes and are now in the ownership of the successor of MKDC, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
MKDC were approached by the Silbury Group, an artist led not for profit organisation, to lease the farmhouse for use as artist studios. MKDC at the time were keen to promote art in Milton Keynes so to encourage artists to move to the new town, and the provision of artist studios at Westbury Farm was seen as an important step in achieving this aspiration.
HCA has continued the arrangement which sees the farmhouse occupied rather than left vacant and vulnerable, resulting in reduced security and general holding costs while ensuring that the farmhouse remains in good condition.
Leasing the farmhouse to the Silbury Group has meant that any problems in regards to repairs and general maintenance requirements are reported to the HCA as and when they arise, preventing repair and maintenance issues escalating in terms of cost and scale as a result of such issues not being identified quickly enough. All of these benefits deliver value for money in the interests of the tax payer, as well as resulting in a sustainable temporary use for the farmhouse that benefits the local community.
A disposal strategy for the farmhouse will be identified when the land surrounding the farmhouse comes forward for development. As the farmhouse has been well maintained then it is unlikely that there will be any conservation deficit, making the asset more attractive to potential purchasers.”
The activity shown in the lawn infront of the farm is a weekend Raku Workshop which took place earlier this month.
Some of the ‘left-over’ works are constant reminders of artists who lived and worked here in the past and their works are only recognizable by their distinct styles.
Quiz: Below is the out come of most of the Raku day. Can you hazard a guess as to which part of the table houses the handiwork of a ‘cranky’ architect?