Catalyst opens gates for Dunstable’s budding young nature artists
Catalyst is working with pupils at Weatherfield Academy Special School to create a Dunstable Downs inspired railing design to be installed at ‘The Printworks’ development in the town.
The Printworks is housing association Catalyst’s 61 new home development on the junction of Brewers Hill Road and High Street North, with homes for affordable rent and shared ownership. Included in the development are architectural features that reflect Dunstable’s past as a stage coaching town, and a richly planted community garden and dedicated green space for wildlife.
One of the requirements of planning was for the inclusion of a piece of public art that reflects the local area. Catalyst commissioned Bedfordshire-based artist Wendy Briggs to work with pupils at neighbouring school Weatherfield Academy to bring the piece to life using the nature found on Dunstable Downs for inspiration.
Pupils were challenged to each create a design that would feature in discs on the railings either side of the main gates. Normally, a workshop would be arranged in the school, however, Wendy was able to adapt the project so the children could create their designs from home.
The sixteen drawings pupils created, all of which will feature on the railings, include birds, butterflies, flowers and trees, and show some really thoughtful and intricate work. Along with the pupils’ designs, the railings will feature the colours of the school’s logo incorporated into the leaves on Wendy’s design, along with silhouettes of wildlife and flowers found on the Downs.
The school’s name will feature on each of the designs, and Wendy’s final design for the gates at The Printworks will be officially opened later this year, and it’s hoped to involve the children in the event.
Andrew Almond, Catalyst’s Managing Director for New Homes – Counties, said:
“We’re delighted to involve pupils from Weatherfield Academy in this community project with local artist Wendy Briggs. The school is close to The Printworks, and pupils and their families may come to live and settle there.
“I was amazed by the detail of the designs that really bring the nature of Dunstable Downs to life. The discs the children have designed will be a memorable and meaningful addition to the new homes and to the town. A big thank you to everybody who took part.”
Joe Selmes, Head Teacher at Weatherfield Academy Special School, told us:
“As a Special School we were delighted to be asked by Catalyst to take part. Our pupils created many designs that will be used on the ironworks surrounding the new housing development at The Printworks. I look forward to seeing the designs as they are transferred to the iron railings.”
Public artist Wendy Biggs commented:
“This has been a most wonderful project to work on. The students’ drawings were so inspiring. Their suggestions of specific wildlife, the winding foliage and the school colours all helped to shape the final design. I look forward to seeing the finished artwork in place and hope that local people will get much enjoyment from it.”
Other public art that Wendy has produced includes the ‘Daisy Gates’ at Town Bridge Mill in Leighton Buzzard and a ‘Silhouette of Apple Trees’ for the Kings Reach Community Centre in Biggleswade.
To find out more about Wendy’s work, visit https://www.axisweb.org/p/wendybriggs/