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East Anglia: Essex & Suffolk Water extends partnership with Arts Council England

PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 July 2014

The artwork and 'utility sculpture' at Hanningfield Reservoir.

The artwork and 'utility sculpture' at Hanningfield Reservoir.

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Essex & Suffolk Water has unveiled a new piece of artwork at the Hanningfield Reservoir near Chelmsford as part of a partnership with the Arts Council England.

Located a short walk from the Café on the Water, the work features a sculpture and willow dome with a bench for visitors to enjoy the views across the reservoir.

Named “Harold and Maude”, it is the work of artist Sarah Staton and features living willow and honeysuckle.

“The special context of Hanningfield Reservoir gave me the inspiration for the sculptures,” said Sarah. “Simon Bill’s ‘Duck Rabbit’ refers directly to the ducks and rabbits that populate the area around the reservoir and make it their own when most of the people of Essex are asleep in their beds,

“The ‘Duck Rabbit’ is a philosophical conundrum that our visitors are able to ponder and young and old alike share a fascination with deciding is it duck or is it rabbit or is it both at once,” she added.

The new “utility sculpture” is located at the bottom of the path that leads to the waterside. It is bright kingfisher blue, with the aim of catching the eye from a distance and letting visitors know that the path leads to something different.

The shape of the sculpture is a similar to the outline of an English church with a spire, inverted like a reflection might be. Sarah said that, when visiting the reservoir over the past year or so, she heard tales of hidden churches submerged beneath the water, and these stories of fictional spires and echoing bells were the inspiration for the form of the sculpture.

Forty pupils from the local St Peter’s Primary Schook in West Hanningfield were among the first to get to see the new sculpture and were given the task of producing their own artwork, using pencil and paper.

Many of them imagined what might lurk in the depths of the reservoir and were helped to draw their pictures by artists Demelza Watts and Gabriel Birch, both students studying sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London, who led the sessions.

Demelza said: “It’s the first time we’ve both worked outside of a studio and in such a unique location. I couldn’t believe some of the colours the youngsters could make out of the natural environment from using grass, mud and berries.”

Gabriel added: “Young people are so inventive and it is really interesting to see what they’ve come up with. I think we’ve picked up a few ideas today.”

Funding for the new work has come from Essex & Suffolk Water and the Arts Council England as part of an ongoing commitment to outdoor arts projects designed to enhance the environment and provide visitors with a beautiful setting to enjoy the landscape. Sarah Pinkerton, partnerships manager at Essex & Suffolk Water, said: “This commission has been made possible with support from Arts Council England. We are very grateful for their support for this project, which we hope will help further enhance the visitor experience at Hanningfield.

“The visit of the children from St Peter’s school is an example of how we hope this work will offer visitors new ways of engaging with the richness and diversity of nature in this beautiful landscape.”

Wendy Figueira, head teacher at St Peter’s Primary School, West Hanningfield said: “We always enjoy getting involved with our local community and the children had a lovely time painting with natural materials. They were buzzing with excitement when they got back off the coach and couldn’t wait to tell us all about the sculptures they had seen. Thank you to all involved for inviting us.”.

The Harold and Maude art work is located near to the Café on the Water at Hanningfield Reservoir.

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