Drostle hand logo


Creating artworks with local communities

Drostle Public Arts – A Community Engaged Practice

Community engagement is an important aspect to any site specific artwork. Our public spaces are just that, they belong to the community and interventions which do not seek consent or understanding from the local community risk alienating those whom it is meant to benefit. In this article we look at how Gary Drostle delivers community arts projects and the various options available for successful community engaged projects. The article is specifically about creating site specific artworks and how the wider community can be involved in the process.  
The Enduring Tangerine Tree by artist Gary Drostle
The Enduring Tangerine Tree – The story of a community. The work features hundreds of photos given by residents along with archive images.

Why community arts?

There are a lot of words bandied about when talking about art in the community (community arts; public arts; site specific arts; arts in the community) but it’s all about listening and understanding the views of the community who are going to have to live with the final artwork and helping them to understand, appreciate and engage the final work. That engagement can take many forms from simple information exchange to full participation. An engaged community artwork can bring many benefits including:–
  • Aesthetic improvement to the local area
  • Cultivate a feeling of participation and ability to improve our own environment
  • Create local landmarks and improve local identity
  • Celebrate the local community, its roots and its particular history
  • Spread arts and crafts skills, design understanding and interest
  • Bring disparate community groups together with a common goal


Experience that counts

With over thirty years experience of delivering community engaged public arts projects to many different community groups and at a variety of differing levels Gary can offer a full spectrum of engagement methods.  
Haberdashers' Crayford Academy at work on their mosaic
Haberdashers’ Aske Crayford Academy at work on their mosaic.



Gary has worked with Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities. Whether the end result is for the educational establishment itself or a contribution to the wider community. Engaging an artist in school has a wide range of benefits for the pupils:–
  • Contact with a professional artist
  • Engagement with the arts project
  • Wider curriculum connections.
Carpenters Road Infant School - Mini Beasts Mosaic
Carpenters Road Infant School – Mini Beasts Mosaic Pupils at the infant school helped design and make this playground mosaic.
  Professional artist in School: In these days when the arts seem to be being squeezed out of schools bringing an artist in can help to redress the imbalance. Bringing in an artist can help develop a project into something bigger that can benefit the whole school. Project engagement: If your school is creating it’s own artwork or getting engaged in a wider public project The wider curriculum; Creating an artwork in your school can incorporate so much more than just the art and design curriculum itself. Skills and links to many other areas of the curriculum are involved including: mathematics; history; technology; social integration; ecology; school community outreach.   Carterton mosaic workshop    

Community Groups

Organised community groups offer a great way to engage with local residents. Mosaic is an amazing medium when it comes to community engagement. Unlike other art mediums mosaic is very inclusive. Many hands go to making a mosaic and the whole project becomes about a communal effort and people coming together to improve their environment. Gary has a wide range of experience working with a vast array of community groups. Here is a list of just some of the type of groups worked with to date: Unemployed Workers Group; Youth Clubs; Tenants Associations; After School Clubs; Care Homes; Lesbian and Gay Groups; Trade Unions; Schools and Colleges; Hospital Schools; Black and Asian Groups; Refugee Groups; Community Fair Drop-In; Pop-Up Shop events.  

A range of delivery options

When planning an artwork commission and it’s level of community engagement there are a number of different ways of incorporating that involvement which I would usually divide into three groups:–

Design workshops

The community aspect of the engagement can be just at the design stage.          
Parallel mosaic workshop with Duke of Edinburgh students
Parallel mosaic workshop with Duke of Edinburgh students

Parallel workshops


Making workshops

  Drostle Logo SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave



Get the latest news, studio updates and events direct to your inbox...

Sign up here to receive my occasional newsletter!

Top posts

Discover my six stage delivery promise

And ensure your mosaic commission runs smoothly and stuns your audience.

More Articles

Drostle Public Arts Newsletter


Thank you for subscribing to my occasional Studio Newsletter. You will receive my little news round-ups in your in box keeping you updated with our projects and behind the scenes views.

You can unsubscribe at any time by using the link provided or by contacting me directly at gary@drostle.com

Drostle Public Arts Studio in Thamesmead
Join our celebration

Lakeside Artists Open Studios

Saturday 16th September 2023