Running Horse Roundabout Project

Posted by in Artwork in Progress, Sharing Cultural Information

There is always a beginning and this particular beginning transcended from a previous project, which I was lead artist and project manager. The concept for this project centred on how to change the use of uncanny space that was unloved. The question was then followed by another; how can people change space?

The project’s aim was to take notice to an underused and unloved urban public area and focus on encouraging individuals to stay and visit the location for a longer period of time. This provided an opportunity for people to: 1) learn more about biodiversity in this particular area; 2) make it a productive functional landscape where people feel safe; 3) learn new and enhance lifelong skill sets; 4) engage with cultural activities.

Year four and six students from a local primary school together with an alternative local school for older youths participated in this project. Their participation involved visiting the Running Horse Roundabout to gather information to support ideas concerning updating murals for the underpasses and making art from recycled material. The recycled artwork is now displayed at the local primary school.

There was a biodiversity talk held at the primary school during the time the art work was being constructed. After the completion of the project, there was a display held at Bracknell Central Library at the beginning of the school year in autumn 2018. The display documented the progress of how everyone worked together to create change at the Running Horse Roundabout. The year six students’ drawings and written work was collected and compiled to create a type of book. This was also available to view at the library. The book represents all the year six students whom visited the Running Horse Roundabout. This celebrates how young people interpret their ideas and thoughts onto paper via drawing and usage of words. This type of work in progress is a process often left hidden to an audience.

The Bracknell Town Council supported change within the space at the roundabout by placing a bench and a new dual recycling bin. The installation of these items were placed in a position to stop cyclists riding over the mound. The grooves made by the cyclists had been reinstated and the top of the mound made tidy. The top of the mound is now an addition to the biodiversity area. It is important to make note here that some of these changes were mirrored in the thoughts of the year six students.

This project was not about an artist to complete their own artwork for a designated space. The objective was to educate and support a community to learn and change together to find the freedom of working together within limitations. The roundabout became the classroom for learning. For example; 1) it supported those who needed to learn how to engage in activities and the community; 2) a new perspective to the space brought an awareness of looking at the environment differently; and 3) learning about biodiversity was additional, which now changes how roundabouts have become important in supporting our local environment; and 4) lastly, it revealed a shared viewpoint of how peaceful the space is and how it can bring enjoyment to the community instead of fear. This last example represents how being in a space for a different reason brings on change in individuals’ ideals.

Another important factor that became apparent regarded learning about the people who live in the local surrounding community. During the visitations at the roundabout, the school children found their voice and shared their knowledge of biodiversity to members of the community and asked what they would like to see changed regarding murals for the connecting underpasses.

From the beginning of conception to the outcome at this stage of the project took two years. It was met with diversity in areas of funding and with people who oppose change.  Although the project’s concept changed to meet these issues, the integrity of the project remained intact.  I would like to end on an important note on how this project demonstrates with a difference how a fine artist can contribute to local communities regarding cultural and social anthropology. All the creative work achieved by everyone involved, came from their original ideas. The theme for the artwork derived from biodiversity, which emerged while researching the designated space at the Running Horse Roundabout.

If you would like more in depth information regarding this project please contact me at valerie.oliver@btinternet.com