Wildlife and Wokingham history behind new art installations

NEW sculptures are being installed into a housing development in Wokingham.

Drivers who come into Wokingham via the London Road will have seen the first of them as they approach the town centre – a large metal artwork called new Beginnings. Created by Cornish specialist metalsmiths Thrussells, it shows a butterfly perching on a new shoot sprouting from the ground.

The artwork aims to talk about new growth within the area and celebrates the emerging community at the development.

However, some people have taken to social media to express their concerns about the sculpture, comparing it to the triffids, man-eating plants from the John Wyndham novel The Day of the Triffids.

Others said it was ‘hideously ugly’ and ‘out of keeping with the area’.

Not everyone agreed, with some online commentators saying it was ‘very good’.

The second piece is called Giant Butterfly and will be installed near the Buckhurst Meadow area of the Montague Park development.

With the 30 acre Buckhurst country park located nearby, the designers wanted to create a sculpture of this iconic insect resting on a reed to highlight the beauty of nature.

It is intended to be an educational feature and a point of interest for those interested in British wildlife.

The third piece will be located within the development and is a neighbourhood centre sculpture called ‘Windows’ where each of its three sides tells a different story about the history of the area.

Cllr Mark Ashwell and Architectural Technician Michael Cleveland Picture: David Wilson Homes

Each of the pieces were chosen after the shortlisted designs were put up on Wokingham Borough Council’s website and Twitter feed. The committee also sought counsel from a number of groups within the borough including the Wokingham Society.

David Wilson Homes then made the final decision for each of the three sites.

Peter Must, chairman of the Wokingham Society, praised the new statue.

He said: “The current statue is an excellent gateway to Montague Park; it is abstract enough not to reveal its identity too easily and, indeed, might not be seen for what it is even when you stop to look at it. Yet it is clearly a link to the local flora and fauna, as intended, and thus suits its location next to Buckhurst Meadows.

“Thrussells are at present working on the third piece, for the Communinty Centre, which will be a set of galvanised steel panels set in oak posts and depicting Wokingham’s heritage. We have offered some suggestions about the proposed content and are hoping that we might be able to provide a leaflet and/or app which explains what is represented.”

Cllr Mark Ashwell, executive member for planning and regeneration, said: “These are three pieces David Wilson Homes (DWH) had to provide and finance as part of its Section 106 contributions.

“Although art is very personal, I like them very much. I’m glad people are talking about them. It means they’re doing their job.

“Public art is very important and I applaud David Wilson Homes for having the foresight and creativity to appreciate the value of it. It is rare to find a developer keen to take a collaborative approach like this.”

Cllr Ashwell continued: “We agreed an artist’s brief with DWH which then sought tenders and shortlisted three artists’ designs.

“We helped it publicise these shortlisted designs via our website and social media, inviting people to comment.

“Details also went to the Wokingham Society, Wokingham Town Council, More Arts, local ward members, our South Wokingham Community Forum and Montague Park residents already signed up to our newsletter.

“We then fed all the public feedback back to DWH to make the final decision. It chose three designs by Thrussells.”

Neil Douglas, sales manager at David Wilson Homes Southern, said: “The newly installed sculptures at our Wokingham development have been designed with local wildlife and history in mind which is a fantastic way to reflect such a sought after area of Berkshire.

“We wanted to choose something that would complement the area’s surroundings and the beautiful countryside in Wokingham and thought this would be a great way to enhance our new development.

“Thanks to the hard work of the team at Thrussells, residents at Montague Park, now have these amazing and inspirational pieces of art to enjoy for a very long time.”

Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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