The Orbital Shopping Park in North Swindon has submitted a planning application to Swindon Council for a striking sculpture celebrating the town’s aviation heritage in the shape of a Spitfire wing designed by Mike Pringle.
The application by British Land includes the sculpture, outlying planting arrangements with seating and an additional seating area close to the bus stop as part of the ongoing renovation works to the site.
Students from Isambard Community School have been directly involved with the project, creating designs that will be put into paving slabs surrounding the sculpture that has been designed to resemble a Spitfire wing.
Mike Pringle said: “What’s really exciting for me about this sculptural art work is that it really is driven by what’s important about Swindon’s past. Most people know of the town’s illustrious railway heritage, but the Orbital has decided to highlight the aviation history that many people know very little about.
“I particularly think the inclusion of poems and artwork provided by local schoolchildren from Haydon Wick and Haydon Leigh Primary schools, and Isambard Community School, is a key point of the work. It gives them something to be proud of in their town, historically and today.
“The figures in the middle of the wing include Harold Starr, the Second World War Hurricane pilot from Swindon who was killed in the Battle of Britain, and another figure representing the many women who built the aircraft.
“The outlying planters and seating that will be placed around the sculpture will be laid out in a five pointed star, evoking the five bladed propeller seen on the Mk21 Spitfires, built in South Marston from 1943 to 1949 on the site of the modern day Honda factory.”
Mr Sanghera, head of art at Isambard, was particularly pleased with the way their Year 8 students faced the design challenge, their exploration of materials and the work they produced to go alongside the Spitfire wing centrepiece. He said: “Students will now complete the paper cuts and Dr Pringle will visit again to explore the possibility of some of them being turned into inlay pavements at the Orbital. This was a great example of the links between art and industry and the power of creativity. The students have done us proud.”
From the planning application, chartered surveyors Montagu Evans on behalf of British Land company Orbital Shopping Park Swindon Limited write:
‘The permanent artwork proposal is intended to enhance the existing retail environment in a meaningful way.
‘Therefore, the portrayal of Swindon’s aviation heritage; a narrative that has recently been overshadowed by the dominant portrayal of Swindon’s railway industry in surrounding areas, has been central to the design. An engaging and celebratory approach has been employed throughout the design development.
Click to read the full planning application details
Pictured top, the conceptual digitisation of the sculpture designed by Mike Pringle for the Oribital Shopping Centre in North Swindon which is now before Swindon Council’s planning committee.
Below, Isambard Community School students holding their designs which might feature in the sculpture at the Orbital Shopping Park. They are pictured in front of an artwork created by Andy Hazel and placed in the school to represent the houses that the first students in 2007 were placed into.
There are four large sculptures in the ‘mall’ running down the centre of the school, each broadly associated with the house names. For example, the ‘Air’ work seen here, incorporates elements of an aeroplane, clouds and a hairdryer. Photos: Richard Wintle of Calyx