A public arts project for the New Central development, Woking
commissioned by Barratt Homes
The Space Between
Richard Heys, 2012
Project Team: Professor Anne Bamford, Belinda Heys and artist Richard Heys
The project team were asked to do two things – working with the theme of The Jam, a band from Woking – to undertake a cultural consultation and to make and install a public work of art (a sculpture) in the plaza which would provide a focal “gateway” style feature at New Central. The artist was asked to create an artpiece which would encourage the public to enter the area. The aspects of the cultural consultation are described below.
New Central Woking
The project team had an initial meeting to discuss the aims and parameters of the project with Barratt Homes and Woking Borough Council in May 2011. This meeting took place at the New Central site and included a tour of the building site and discussions of the potential placement of the art work. We then submitted a proposal to Barratt Homes in June 2011 and, once this was accepted, began to contact schools, prepare the school workshops and to do the background cultural history research into The Jam and Woking from July 2011 onwards.
Our goal was to work with four secondary schools in Woking, and four out of five of the schools we approached accepted our invitation to work with their pupils. The workshops took place in October and November 2011 at Woking High School, Woking College, Bishop David Brown School and St John the Baptist School. All the workshops included as a main activity working in clay with themes and images from selected lyrics from The Jam – in total we worked with 133 pupils. While the children and young people worked we had The Jam’s music playing in the background. When we had longer stretches of time to work with the pupils Richard challenged them to draw their sculptures in charcoal on large sheets of paper and to translate their sculptures into a much larger format, through recreating them with recycled cardboard. The school workshops were enthusiastically received by pupils and teachers alike, and the pupils were very engaged by the idea that they were contributing to the development of something “real”. We kept a careful photographic record of all the of pupils’ work.
Some feedback from the pupils:
“Thanks for a really exciting day – good luck with your sculpture.”
“Thank you for the workshop. I learnt lots about The Jam and sculpture.”
“Thank you. I thought it was really fun and really enjoyed working with clay.”
Some feedback from teachers and professionals:
“The workshops [the Year 11’s] completed with Richard have really enhanced their portfolios- so thank you very much!”
Laura Maley, Head of Art, Woking High School
“Thanks so much! Great opportunity for our students to work on a ‘live’ project and to work in clay for most of the day.”
Sarah Cox, Art Teacher, St. John the Baptist
“The work with schools was really inspiring and our learning team were really impressed with the results.”
Marilyn Scott, Director, The Lightbox
Parallel to the work with the schools Belinda Heys undertook research into the story of The Jam, and the band’s relationship to Woking. She interviewed Peter Gordon of Eagle radio, and a number of staff from The Lightbox (a museum and art gallery) in Woking and read numerous books and articles on the phenomena which was The Jam. To feed into the artist’s creative process she presented the story of The Jam and the band’s relationship to Woking in the form of a powerpoint presentation (including many images and video footage of the band in action) and a visual storyboard. The band members were informed of the project and what it was going to entail (i.e the work with schools, etc.) and the project team offered to meet with the band members should they wish to do so.
Next began the development of ideas for the art piece. Richard Heys steeped himself in the images of the pupils’ work, in the lyrics, images, video footage and history of the band and the possibilities and challenges of the site itself. In December 2011 the project team met with Barratt Homes and Richard presented nine different potential designs for the sculpture (in the form of a mood board, drawings and wood and clay maquettes). Three out of the nine designs were chosen, and Woking Borough Council, The Lightbox and Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler (the three band members) were all asked to feed back their comments on these designs. Taking the comments and feedback received Richard chose to create The Space Between design for the New Central Plaza.
“…the [artpiece] options look really exciting and clearly working with the Schools was inspiring for all.” Sue Barham, Strategic Director, Woking Borough Council
The proposal for the sculpture was signed off by Barratt Homes in February 2012 and Richard began work on the three oak elements of the sculpture in March. During the creation of the sculpture Rick Buckler of The Jam visited Richard twice to view the evolution of the sculpture.
Coming to agreement about the safest and most sensible way to install the sculpture was somewhat of a challenge, bearing in mind that the sculpture was being installed on top of an underground car park and there were weight limitations. In the end a solution which met the aesthetic guidance from the artist and the technical challenges of the site was found, and the sculpture was installed.
The Final touches
The Space Between, an oak sculpture which is 5,5 metres in height, 2,8 metres in diameter and weighs 7,7 tonnes was unveiled by Rick Buckler at a ceremony at New Central on 12th July 2012, attended by the mayor of Woking, over 100 Jam fans and members of the local community.
After the unveiling Rick told the News & Mail: “I think it looks great because at the back you’ve got this high tech building that’s all straight lines but the sculpture isn’t. It’s very striking.
“If you look at it from different angles it changes and, of course, residents in the flats will be able to look at it from above which will be interesting.”
He also paid tribute to those behind the sculpture, saying: “Usually these kind of things come from within the music industry so it’s great that this is in Woking itself and the council was involved – and especially the kids from the local schools, including our old school.
“The whole way it was put together was fabulous, getting local people involved in it, and it’s going to be there a long time.” Woking News and Mail, 13th July 2012
Both before and after the launch Richard did a number of press interviews including a radio interview with BBC Surrey and a number of interviews with journalists of local newspapers. Belinda worked with staff from Barratt Homes’ Marketing Department, supplying them with photographs and information about the project for PR purposes, for the launch event, and for the design of the sculpture plaque. The launch event generated an excellent level of press coverage.
The sculpture has been well received by the residents of New Central, by Woking Borough Council and by Barratt Homes.
The project team is consulting with the four schools about an event to introduce the pupils’ to the art piece to take place in the autumn of 2012. In addition, Barratt Homes plans to design and install an information board in the New Central plaza to provide an overview of what the project entailed.
“I’m proud that The Jam has inspired this great piece of artwork for Woking. It’s an honour to have this in my home town and to know all the hard work that has gone into making this special.
“Thank you to everyone involved that has made this possible.” Paul Weller
The Sculpture after weathering in