First glimpse of major new public art proposed for Wichelstowe

By Jessica Durston - 13 June 2022

Arts and CultureCommunity
  • Wichelstowe Tree of Life

    Wichelstowe Tree of Life

Plans for a striking new piece of public artwork at Wichelstowe have been submitted to Swindon Borough Council by Wichelstowe LLP (a partnership between Barratt Homes, David Wilson Homes and SBC).

The ‘Wichelstowe Tree of Life’ sculpture will be situated at the centre of the new roundabout on Mill Lane.

The finished laser-cut, weathering steel artwork will be 5.6m tall and 4.4m wide and will form a landmark gateway to Wichelstowe.

It includes local flora and fauna including plants and animals that are indigenous to Wiltshire and more specifically, commonly seen throughout the development, such as herons, water voles, bees, dragonflies, forget-me-nots, hawthorn and dog roses.

Artist, sculptor and designer, Sebastien Boyesen, who has been commissioned to make ‘Wichelstowe Tree of Life’ a reality is said to have a track record of delivering meaningful installations locally, having previously been tasked to design the footbridge over the Wilts and Berks Canal in the Wichelstowe District Centre.

Sebastien said of the installation: “I’ve incorporated a strong visual style in the artwork so that the detail is easily legible from cars that drive past and can be read at a glance. I’m sure local residents will be excited to see if they can find and identify the relevant plants and wildlife they’re so used to seeing at the development.”

Emma Leake, Wichelstowe development coordinator, said: “Given the artwork is for the benefit of the general public, we really wanted the local community to have a say in the design. We launched an online poll where residents could vote for the flora and fauna they’d most like to see in the installation – almost half voted for the heron so this long-legged, long necked bird will be very central to the piece!

“Sebastien did an amazing job designing the footbridge at the development and we can’t wait to see ‘Wichelstowe Tree of Life’ finished and taking pride of place at Wichelstowe.”

If planning is granted, the sculpture will be installed later this summer.

The individual elements that make up the artwork will be laser cut in stainless steel, and rods in varying lengths will attach to the surface of the structure to create a three-dimensional effect.

Sebastien Boyesen has worked with councils, architects, and developers since 1984 to create unique, site-specific artworks that are integrated into the local environment.

One of the largest local authority joint venture agreements in the country, the Wichelstowe development is being built by Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes in partnership with Swindon Borough Council and will deliver 3,000 new homes over the next 20 years, along with new schools and community facilities.

The 250-hectare site on the southern edge of Swindon will include extensive open spaces, nature conservation areas, playing pitches and allotments.

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