20100417_Avon Valley to Caldecott Park – A Short Sculpture Trail
Who : Me and Craig
Where : Rugby, Warwickshire, England.
Maps : Ordnance Survey Explorer Map No. 222 Rugby & Daventry
Start Point : SP495,766 + End Point : SP503,754
Approx Distance : about 1 mile (1.6 km)
Heights : Not much, about 80 foot (25m) rise from Avon Bridge to the top of the park
Whilst I’m writing diary posts about short walks in the Rugby area, here’s another very short walk, but you’d be hard pressed to call it a country walk, being more of a town wander, but it does have some interest with sculptures at the beginning, middle and end. This was again with my son (then aged 8 ) and our walk took place after dropping his sister off at the relatively newly rebuilt Avon Valley School for some extra-curricular music lessons …. we needed to get up into Rugby Town centre for some reason that now escapes me.
Well, daughter had headed off into the school and my wife had driven off to do some errands elsewhere, leaving me and Craig to walk into town. Not that we set off straight-away; we did a little sculpture viewing first as there are three wire frame, life size, structures in the grounds of the school on the green between the entrance and exit gateways. Avon Valley is a Performing Arts College/School and the sculptures reflect this; one being a thespian holding two masks (Drama), another is a trombonist (obviously music) and another is a figure elegantly balancing on one leg, which I took as depicting dance (later proved to be true as there’s a photo on the Artist’s web site saying so).
The sculptures are by the Warwickshire based artist David Gosling and his son Adam, who make their woven sculptures from various materials including steel, willow, wool, and also use clay and paint under the envelope description of Environmental Art. Personally a lot of art can leave me, errrmm, rather unmoved, but I like these figures at Avon Valley.
After a short while, we moved off passing the northern end of the Rugby Western Relief Road, then nearing completion (it’s now well at truly open at the time of writing in June-2011) and then crossed Newbold Road to follow a path down the side of a set of playing fields to soon reach another traffic island. We again crossed to the other side heading towards a road bridge over the River Avon. Crossing the bridge, the view into the distance had a reasonably attractive look, but a closer glance showed discarded rubbish including a rather mangled road works sign which had obviously been there some time as it was half covered in silt; It seems a pity that someone felt it necessary to throw it in, in the first place, and almost as big a pity that no one had fished it out either … Sorry, little moan over!
Just further up the road, having crossed the bridge, and heading towards the railway bridge, is a small field, known as The Donkey Paddock. This is quite a local landmark, not for the field itself, but for the three sculpture donkeys [William, Webb and Ellis] with one looking over the fence near the footpath. These donkeys are made the same way as the figures at the school and by the same artist. I’ve heard that these were commissioned to replace some real donkeys that had been attacked and killed (poisoned I heard) …. although I can’t find anything on the internet to confirm this! What I did find however was an article on a Rugby Borough Council web page that gives an overview of the site and the donkeys; At the risk of being accused of plagiarism here’s what it says :- The Donkey Paddock is a small area of green space adjacent to the West Coast Mainline Railway on Newbold Road. Historically the site had a row of railway cottages that abutted the road with a paddock at the rear, whilst the bridge on Newbold Road was the location of the original station. Rumour has it that there were always either horses or donkeys in the paddock to the rear, hence the origin of its name. The area was improved in 2000 with the creation of a plantation area and the support of the local Rotary Club. In 2004 Banbury artist David Gosling was commissioned to create the “three donkey sculpture” that has proved very popular with local people and visitors a like. These were named William, Webb and Ellis by the local radio station.
After saying good-bye to the donkeys, we continued up the road, under the railway and then started to rise up the hill towards town on the main road (Newbold Road); but we soon turned off left into side streets to make our way through to the “bottom” entrance into Caldecott Park (via Lancaster Road). Entering the park we first passed the new cafe (I don’t think it was open though) to reach the new fountain feature … well it’s more of a mini-waterfall dropping in a series of uneven steps and as with so many of these sorts of water features, it was, how can I put this … dry, shut down, not running, so really it wasn’t a waterfall or a fountain at-all it was just a series of, errmmm, uneven steps. Shame really as it would have looked really pretty in the sunshine. What it did do however was lead the eye straight up to a lovely flower bed and another piece of sculpture.
This last piece of art is also metal, but shiny plate and tubes (welded/brazed together, not woven this time) … It’s of a figure blowing into an enormous tuber-like musical instrument with “stuff” growing out of the bell-end obviously depicting the eminating music. There are multiple discs welded into the structure with individual images such as a penguin, spider, crown + feathers, etc., etc. … What these all signify I’ve no idea, but I quite like this bit of modern art; probably because it’s like a scaled up version of my wife’s tenor horn (she plays with Bilton Silver Band) …. I’d assume part of the inspiration for the sculpture was the nearby band-stand where the band plays concerts in the park. I’ve now search a little on the www and the sculpture is by Hilary Cartmel and is entitled Echo 2009. Hilary’s web site gives the following info’ ….
Stainless steel, bronze, cast glass, 3 meters high. Sited in Caldecott Park, Rugby. Commissioned by Rugby Borough Council a part of a £1 million refurbishment of the Park. The brief for the work was to replace a Victorian Sculpture of a scantily clad girl entitled Echo which had disappeared from the park in the middle of the 20th Century.
This sculpture, a slim androgynous figure of a child attempting to blow notes from a tuba was Hilary’s attempt to subvert the sadly tragic myth of Echo, and make a positive and joyful image.
So there you go, you know as much as me now. Once we left the statue, we walked up past the band-stand on our way through the park and couldn’t help be impressed by the show of daff’s under the stand of mature trees close by. Then Craig dashed over to the play area for a quick dash up the climbing frames and the like, before we headed up into town. And that’s that, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and my pix …. T.T.F.N. Gary.