About the Project
Creative Estuary offered us the opportunity to be a partner in their large commissions programme to realise a public artwork in Swale. We chose to work in Sittingbourne and with a range of partners involved with Milton Creek country park, a hidden gem in an industrial area of the town, adjacent to its creek.
Lucy Medhurst, former Ideas Test director (2018-2022)
Patrick Walls was chosen by a Community Panel from 30 artists who applied for the co-commission. Pat proposed to deliver a series of community and school stone carving workshops, which would draw upon the local ecology and inspire the final artwork to be installed in the country park. Furthermore, the work created by the community is to be showcased in a local exhibition and a celebratory event will follow once the final artwork piece is installed.
The Community Panel
From the writing of the artist’s brief – like a job description describing the project for the artists – to the shortlisting and final interviews, the Community Panel included local stakeholders who were involved with every step.
The Ideas Test approach works with a co-commissioning collaborative model. This means that we work in and with our communities to involve groups of local people in the decision making and artist selection process. We have a particular interest in working with non-traditional places and spaces and with audiences and participants who do not traditionally engage with mainstream arts.The one thing we hear loud and clear is that people want to determine how things will benefit them and want to realise a lasting benefit from projects. This has particular resonance in the context of the pandemic and its impacts in our communities. What we do needs to be locally relevant and valued. Therefore we began with a local conversation and with building relationships, trust and networks based on local knowledge.
Lucy Medhurst, former Ideas Test director (2018-2022)
The Community Panel included;
- Friends of Milton Creek
- The park ranger of Milton Creek Country Park
- Kemsley and Sittingbourne Light Railway
- Swale Arts & Media Centre
- Raybel Charters
- Swale Borough Council
- And representatives from Creative Estuary and Ideas Test
Swale Borough Council are looking forward to working on this project with Creative Estuary, Ideas Test and Patrick on what looks to be amazing workshops for some stone art works that will fit in well with Milton Creek.
Kris Staples, Milton Creek Country Park Ranger
I am very much looking forward to working with Patrick. It will be great to have a new distinctive and original piece of art in the Country Park, especially as 2022 will be the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Milton Creek Trust and the official launch of the Country Park.
Lynda Marshall, Chair of Friends of Milton Creek
I always enjoy stone carving workshops and the ones for Hidden Lands with Ideas Test were no exception. The day at Milton Creek Country Park was great and I was so pleased that we had a good turnout on a rather wet and chilly Sunday! The two days at Regis Manor school were also really great fun. I was very impressed with the work produced and the kids were very well behaved. The staff were really enthusiastic and helpful too. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s work re-imagined as bas-relief carvings on the stone benches for the park. I’m also really excited about the prospect of working on stage two, a monumental abstract sculpture ‘Stanchion’ as part of the Hidden Lands project.
Patrick Walls, Community Artist
Patrick is a sculptor with experience of working with local communities when he makes art.
He visited Milton Creek in late 2021 to meet with members of the Ideas Test team and Lynda Marshall from The Friends of Milton Creek to discuss his plans and potential dates for workshops with the local community and schools.
In March 2022, Patrick led workshops at the park where local people carved sandstone blocks with images of what they saw or liked at the park. This was to start a conversation about the park between Patrick and the community.
The workshop attendees weren’t put off by the showers that moved in over the park. One participant came from Sheppey after his daughter told him of the workshop.
A family who joined in revealed their son was going to be part of Patrick’s workshops at Regis Court Primary School in the following week.
Lynda created a beautiful acorn and Ali Corbel who leads Swale In Bloom carved a Shrill Carder Bee – a rare species of bee that is native to the park.
Kyra Cross, Ideas Test – Sculpting Nature blog
Patrick also led sessions with Year 6 pupils from Regis Court Primary School to deliver 4 stone carving workshops.
How are you finding workshops?
“I’m finding it really fun!”
“I like trying the different types of chisel methods and trying to make it curve.”
What do you think of Milton Creek Country Park?
“My house is really near it, so I went there a lot when we had lockdown”
“I always see nature and bugs when I go there”
“I want Milton Creek to be bigger!”
“I want more benches”
Quotes from Regis Court Year 6 pupils taking part in Patrick Walls’ Hidden Lands workshops
Exhibition at Swale Media Arts Centre
We loved it! Ticks all the right boxes and great to see so much collaboration between local groups.
Carvings are wonderful and I’ve enjoyed reading about the community engagement side of the project.
What a fabulous exhibition and project. Very wholesome and we’re very familiar with Milton Creek Country Park so its nice to see it featured
Quotes from visitors to the Hidden Lands exhibition, June 2022
In June 2022, we held a week long exhibition at Swale Media Arts Centre in Sittingbourne High Street.
Nearly 150 came to see the community stone carvings and talk with the team about Hidden Lands, including the students who took part in the workshops at Regis Manor Primary School.
This is sick!
This is amazing!
Year 6 pupils who took part in Hidden Lands workshops at Regis Manor Primary School
A big thank you to all those who came to visit. A special thanks also to Julie, Justin and Ken at Swale Media Arts Centre, and to Raybel Charters for the loan of tools and exhibition equipment.
Up and coming
The first phase of Hidden Lands will be three stone benches that use images from the carving workshop in their design.
The benches will be made of Hillhouse Edge Sandstone and installed at Milton Creek Country Park in early October 2022.
We will be hosting a special celebration event at Milton Creek Country Park in October for those who took part in the workshops, The Community Panel and the whole Milton Regis and Swale community.
Next – Hidden Lands the Stanchion
In summer 2022 we successfully raised funds on Spacehive for the next phase of Hidden Lands – The Stanchion.
First up will be a series of 7 workshops, which will go ahead later in October 2022 at Milton Creek Country Park, in local schools and around key community and heritage spaces in Sittingbourne.
These will involve workshops using locally sourced materials which are interwoven within Milton Creek’s heritage in paper and brick manufacturing and the use of Thames Barges with freight along the creek and Estuary.