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Wildlife And Leisure Themes For Public Art At Conningbrook Lakes

Monday 9th October 2017

Wildlife And Leisure Themes For Public Art At Conningbrook Lakes

Celebrating wildlife and leisure at Conningbrook Lakes were the twin themes to emerge from the public art consultation held on October 6th at Conningbrook Lakes in Ashford.  The local community were asked to contribute their views and ideas for a series of public art installations being devised for Conningbrook Lakes Country Park and the planned new residential development at Conningbrook Lakes in Ashford, Kent.

Artist Kerry Lemon, who has worked for clients including The National Trust and the BBC, led the consultation day alongside public art consultants, FrancisKnight.

Kerry Lemon said: “People were really keen to see the proposed artwork reflect, celebrate and highlight the wildlife on the lake.  We were able to share our thoughts so far, which we’ve drawn together based on the habitats and species to be found at the site, as well as taking inspiration from all the amazing leisure activities that take place at the park.  We want to create art that will give a sense of education and adventure but mostly, a celebration of this most amazing setting.”

Ideas and input were received from groups including volunteers for Kent Wildlife Trust, preschool group Brambles, who meet regularly at the park and children from Ashford Beavers Group, who were led in a creative session by Kerry Lemon with the youngsters producing design ideas for park benches.

The former quarry site at Conningbrook Lakes is to be transformed by a multi-million-pound development of 300 new homes in a lakeside setting, together with the improvement of facilities at the country park to support its existing water-based and running-track leisure facilities.    Up to three locations have been chosen for public art within the new housing development, with potentially up to seven art installations at Conningbrook Lakes Country Park.
Laura Knight of FrancisKnight said:  “We’ve had lots of really interesting ideas emerging from the consultation, from engaging with the water, structures for the children to climb on, somewhere to sit and admire the view and artworks that respond to the weather.  We’ve also discussed how artworks might be embedded into the buildings in the new village as we seek to draw the two areas together.”

Neil Burt, a regular bird watcher at Conningbrook Lakes Country Park, commented:  “It was great to share my ideas and concerns, and I look forward to seeing how the site develops.  Public art is a great idea to attract people and encourage them to walk around the beautiful lakes to enjoy the birds and wildlife.”

Councillor Mike Bennett, Portfolio Holder for Culture for Ashford Borough Council, attended the consultation day and said:  “It was wonderful to see some of the ideas and themes coming together for the public art, but it’s important that we hear from more members of the public to ensure the art reflects their wishes and creates a cultural legacy that the community can be proud of.”

Kathy Putnam, Head of Planning for Chartway Group, said:  “We are keen to develop artworks that are not only distinct and relevant to Conningbrook Lake, but also help to create a unique identity and cohesive feel for the lakeside village and park.  Importantly, we are keen to commission art that will stand the test of time and that the community can take pride and pleasure in.”

Latimer, part of the Clarion Housing Group, in partnership with leading Kent-based developers, Chartway Group, owns the 31-acre site and are working in partnership with Ashford Borough Council to deliver the public art installations across the new housing development and existing country park.

Once the blueprint in the form of a Public Art Strategy is agreed upon, a range of artists will be commissioned to create a series of bespoke artworks to reflect the new community and the natural habitats, flora and fauna of the countryside park.

The housing development, which is expected to be one of the most desirable in the region, will offer a range of two, three, four and five bedroom homes, with the first houses coming to market in early 2018.

The housing development is helping to fund improvements and enhancement to the existing country park, leisure and recreational facilities, which will include a range of waterbased sports and other infrastructure elements for the country park.

Members of the public can still get in touch with their views and feedback on the proposed
artworks by emailing:  [email protected]