Our ART VOTE took place from Thursday 18 Jan to Wednesday 24 Jan. Over this period, people voted on-line, in person, and in schools for their favourite sculpture designs from our artist-in-residence Deborah Aguirre-Jones.
Over the last three years, Deborah has been working with local people to develop ideas for public art that would really work well in Severn Beach. Amongst other things, she challenged residents to get creative with her ‘Explain Yourself’ project. This project got a range of local people to consider an impossible question; how would you go about explaining yourself or the human world to this landscape? The results were surprising! After hours of conversations, diagrams, cups of tea and experiments, a series of mini-artworks and performances evolved. Then, inspired by these artworks, Deborah drew a series of designs, three of which were destined to be carved in stone and installed in Severn Beach. And to choose the winning designs, we had a public vote!
147 people voted on-line. We were able to separate out the votes cast by people living in Severn Beach, Pilning and New Passage (those living closest to the sculpture sites) and those from further afield. Interestingly, the top three choices of both groups were the same. 61 people came out to our in-person event at Severn Beach Village Hall. Great discussions and lots of thought ensued. And every child at St Peter’s Primary School in Pilning and at Severn Beach primary got a chance to vote on a special in-school voting day.
So, what were the results? The winning designs are…
Explaining different journeys to the Estuary
Explaining my mother to the birds
Explaining the effect of music to the tides
Artist Deborah says of the process “We wanted to create grass roots sculpture rather than a civic monument – artwork which tells stories about individuals and their particular connections to this distinctive landscape. This is a remarkable place, and these carvings will show the place through the eyes of the people who live here.”
“The three images also reflect things Severn Beach is renowned for: its historic importance as a destination and pausing place for travellers, the links people have with wildlife, and the extraordinary tide”.
Peter Tyzack, local resident and Vice-Chair of the Pilning and Severn Beach Parish Council, is thrilled. “First we had pebbles on the beach and now boulders in the grass! I am really pleased to see how this work has progressed, and our artist has been excellent at challenging people for their creative ideas. For many years we have seen other areas getting their ‘public art’ and have asked can we have some too – and now we shall, not one but three! I hope that residents will enjoy them for years to come”.
Gill Cox, a local resident who has been involved with the creation of the artworks, said “It drew the community together and gave everyone a greater understanding of the Severn. It’s brilliant that you don’t have to be artistic to get involved in creating public art – you just need a bit of imagination!”
Thank you to everyone who voted. Deborah will now turn these drawings into small sculptures each roughly the size of a large backpack. They will be installed on the Parish Council-owned green space that runs between Beach Road and the flood defences in Severn Beach.
The winning designs will be hung in the window of the empty shop in Beach Road, Severn Beach, later in February. Look out for our launch event in May!