Civic Society urges Keynsham residents to say "no thanks" to proposed artwork

Published on: 18 Aug 2013

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Keynsham's Civic Society has called on residents to say "no" to the proposed design for a piece of public artwork which will be installed at the regenerated town centre.

Branding the design, which features a  number of stainless steel stems with coloured pieces on the end, "expensive and inappropriate", society member and resident Judi Grant said she felt it was irrelevant to the town.

The proposal has been drawn up by artist Seamus Staunton, who was commissioned by Bristol-based arts consultancy Willis Newson, which was in turn put in charge of the project by B&NES Council.

Residents were invited to join two walking tours of the town in June to show the team behind the project the places they felt were important to residents and to discuss what they wanted to see from the artwork.

The resulting design was then put on display at Keynsham Library until Friday, August 16, for residents to give their feedback.

It has not found favour with the Civic Society, however, who say there should be a design competition decided by public vote instead.

In a letter sent to Keynshamvoice and town councillors, Judi Grant said: "We have now been presented with the fruits of this enterprise, a design which is entirely irrelevant to our town, together with the most feeble attempt to link it with the stated brief. After all, cow parsley and trees are hardly exclusive to Keynsham. The bend in the ‘stems’ of this bunch of multi-coloured flowers is just that and has nothing whatsoever to do with echoing the arches of St John's Church."

Town councillors have also previously raised concerns after seeing the design that it did not feature a clock, which they believed was part of the original brief for the arts project.

Residents can visit the Keynsham Town Centre Public Arts Programme Facebook page or comment on Twitter @ktownwalkies.

See Judi Grant's letter in full here:

Keynsham Should Say ‘No Thank You’

We already have a less than popular design inflicted upon the Town Centre. Unless we make a serious protest we are about to have an expensive and inappropriate piece of Public Art "given" to us by the developers.

Willmott Dixon have followed exactly the same pattern as B&NES by spending money allocated to the project on appointing a company chosen by them to ‘facilitate’ this enterprise. They, in turn, have commissioned an artist all with no prior consultation with us.

Yet again, in an attempt to have some influence, albeit at a late stage, representatives of our town have given their time and support at no charge to initiate both the facilitators and the artist in the history of Keynsham, escorting them as they requested, to places of significance to us. We agreed that the sculpture which would take up a commanding position, should act as a meeting place, reflecting Keynsham's past and looking to its future.

We have now been presented with the fruits of this enterprise, a design which is entirely irrelevant to our town, together with the most feeble attempt to link it with the stated brief. After all, cow parsley and trees are hardly exclusive to Keynsham. The bend in the ‘stems’ of this bunch of multi-coloured flowers is just that and has nothing whatsoever to do with echoing the arches of St John's Church. Please give us credit for possessing taste, discernment and a grasp of history! We don't need facilitators; we have a thriving artistic sector and are blessed with History and Civic Societies.

This sculpture is important enough to warrant a major design competition, the winner being chosen by public vote. It is our town, our town centre and we are the ones who will be living with it.

The Civic Society suggest that in order to link both ends of the High Street we should not only echo the banded stone of the church tower but also feature a larger version of the exquisitely beautiful lamp standard on the church roundabout. This was saved from a scrapyard by the Society who refused to accept that it had suffered irreparable damage from a lorry some years ago. It would form a meeting place, a Phoenix rising from the site of the old Town Centre, a beacon of hope for the future and a strong link with Keynsham's proud history as a pioneer of both gas and electric street lighting. The dolphins on the base of the original could be replaced by important symbols relevant to Keynsham.

Alongside this we also support the public wish to have some kind of timepiece visible from each direction as proposed by the town council.

Judi Grant
Keynsham Civic Society

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