Marshall’s Arm Nature Reserve, Entrances Project
- completed Summer 2009
- budget £21,000.00
- commissioned jointly by Action Weaver Valley, Marshall’s Arm Management Group, Mersey Forest & Vale Royal Borough Council
- included mentoring a local art graduate, who assisted on the project for work experience
The brief for this project required the commissioned artist to:
- Make recommendations and propose designs for features at all 7 entrances to the nature reserve.
- Develop proposed designs for two entrances in consultation with the commissioners.
- Community Consultation: to include design workshops with a selected group of high school pupils from Hartford High School and design workshops with Marshall’s Arm Management Group and other interested local residents as part of the design development process.
- Produce final design proposals for approval.
- Supervise the fabrication and installation of approved features at the two agreed entrances, in consultation with the commissioners.
In this project, I worked in close consultation with the Countryside Ranger, Martin Harrison, and with the very active Marshall’s Arm Management Group. Hartford has a relatively close local community and the nature reserve is much appreciated and well cared for. A cluster of schools is located close to its main entrance at Stones Manor Lane, including Hartford High School. A team of committed pupils worked with me over a series of workshops to explore the site and develop ideas for the entrance features, assisted by a recent graduate, Pete, who was a great asset to the project. The teacher was very enthusiastic and gave her full support to the project. The school’s input contributed to both the steel entrance feature at Stones Manor Lane and also to the stone sphere sculpture that was sited at a second entrance, close to the Weaver navigation. This piece was made using an appropriate choice of Cheshire red stone and two editions were cast from the mould. The second was donated to the school to site in their grounds as a souvenir of the project.
An additional workshop was arranged with members of the management group and other interested residents on a weekday evening. Once the workshops were complete, I used the material and suggestions contributed to create three options for the main entrance design. We displayed these proposals at a design consultation evening in the school and circulated feedback response slips to gather opinion.
The feedback produced clear indications about the elements of the three designs that people did and didn’t like, although it did not lead us to a ‘winning’ design out of the three. Instead, I created a new design proposal that attempted to satisfy most of the points raised, following further consultation with the management group and council officers. This final design proposal was approved and fabrication began.
I arranged for the Hartford High School team to visit the forge in Stockport and Martin (Lister) explained to them how we work together to take the design into the finished structure, ready for installation. All the pupils were then offered an opportunity to heat irons in the fire and shape them on the anvil.