North Hinksey Parish Council, Vale of the White Horse District Council and community charity Fusion Arts are working in partnership with local artists, residents and schools to enrich the Botley West Way development with several exciting new public artworks.
Following a December 2020 callout, North Hinksey Parish Council have commissioned artists Nor Greenhalgh, Alex Wenham and Clare Goodall to create three separate yet interconnected works that will bring vibrancy and local character to the new West Way development. These artworks will be in a range of mediums including mosaic, stone carving and mural painting. This new initiative aims to offer something for the whole community, with the art being inspired by Botley’s history, heritage, wildlife and people.
The artists immersed themselves in local historical material, met with local residents and councillors and spoke to the Botley GAP action group to determine what is required from this project and discuss the type of public artworks that might be desirable in and around West Way. The artists went on a nature walk with local residents to explore Botley’s wildlife and ecological habitats, and met the Botley Seniors Lunch Club to learn about what the area around West Way means to them, and their views and hopes for the new development. Local councillors shared the history of Botley and introduced the artists to volunteers at the local food bank. The public consultation days, which took part last March and September, were an additional rich resource for the artists to draw inspiration for the artworks.
A local resident who grew up on the farm that used to be where the West Way is now, walked artist Nor around the site, showing her original milk bottles which have been unearthed by the builders.
Nor says: "I'm so excited to be working with the local council and Fusion Arts on the forthcoming mural artwork, which I hope will make a currently blank wall more interesting to people using the area. I've been inspired by the history of the site, which used to be a dairy farm, as well as the rich natural history of the nature reserves nearby. Botley is a place of contrasts between the old and new, and I'm looking forward to playing with some of the visual motifs that come from this contrast of scales between the small and large, ancient and modern."
Nor is continuing to engage with local young people to create two murals over the coming months, to be painted later this spring.
Inspired by Botley's wildlife, mosaic-artist Clare Goodall worked with Botley Primary School in which local children drew domestic insects and plant life. Clare used these drawings to design the mosaic panels, depicting Botley’s wetlands and wildlife in different scales and perspectives. The three mosaic panels were then made during some fun workshops last year with North Hinksey Primary School and local residents. These three colourful landscapes will brighten up the outside walls of the community building:
“I have really enjoyed working with local people of Botley on this project, getting people together after Covid has felt so positive and rewarding. The children from Botley school produced some amazing drawings which inspired my designs for the mosaic panels and the children from North Hinksey Primary School did some very careful mosaic work on the bugs and butterfly panel. I want to thank all the local people that spared the time to join in with the making of the tree panel and wetlands / fern panel. It was so much more enjoyable to work with them and get together and share skills and stories, cake and tea!
My thinking in the designs was to capture the beauty of the natural landscape, skies and wildlife that Botley sits within. Bringing this to public attention as a daily reminder of the beauty and restorative effect that nature can have on us.” - Clare
Everyone is invited to the Big Art Reveal Event of the new artworks in West Way Square 11am on Saturday 18th March.
"The Parish Council is excited to have assisted with the commissioning, creation and installation of artworks in West Way Square using the Section 106 funds allocated from the construction work. This has been a truly collaborative process involving residents of all ages across Botley and North Hinksey. The three artists have immersed themselves in the community. They have visited local schools and groups, taken part in a guided nature walk, and held public events and hands-on workshops with primary school children and adult members of the community. The design of the artworks links them to the people, history and environment of Botley. They will add an extra dimension and brighten up the centre of the community for many years to come." - Cllr Lorna Berrett, Vice-Chair, North Hinksey Parish Council.
The unveiling on Saturday 18th March will reveal the three mosaic panels and is the first of two big events planned this year. Later this spring the curtain will drop on Nor’s murals and local stone carver Alex Wenham’s monuments, which are currently taking shape in his Cumnor workshop with the delicate hare carving emerging from the rock.
The public engagement process will continue on the 18th March with an activity morning at West Way Square and Seacourt Community Hall to which all are invited. Drop in anytime between 10am-12pm to take part in the design of the upcoming murals, with artist Nor. We'll be experimenting with ancient and modern ways of measuring out space using unusual objects. If you like, bring along an object that has local or personal significance for you!