Conningbrook Lakes  

North Lake 2

Inspired by nature with a focus on a diverse and abundant wildlife

Clients: The Chartway Group Ltd, Latimer Developments Ltd and Ashford Borough Council

Artists: Kerry Lemon, Julia Clarke, Tim Norris and Outdoor Studios

The Chartway Group Ltd, Latimer Developments Ltd and Ashford Borough Council have appointed FrancisKnight to produce an overall Public Art Strategy for Conningbrook Lakes and to deliver a public art programme for both the residential area and the country park.  

The former quarry site at Conningbrook Lakes is to be transformed by a mulit million-pound development of 300 new homes in a lakeside setting, together with the improvement of facilities at the country park to support its existing water-based and running-track leisure facilities.

FrancisKnight appointed and collaborated with Lead Artist Kerry Lemon to assist with the delivery of the client team's design and place-making aspirations and to help discharge a public art requirement as set out in a planning condition.

The resulting Public Art Strategy ensures consistency of approach and a unique indentity for the site whilst maintaining value for money and effectiveness for each stage of the project. Working closely with the client team FrancisKnight considered alternative ways of delivering public art, reviewed previously proposed locations, researched themes, allocated budgets and facilitated consultation events with key stakeholders

Artists' Commissions

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Artists Tim Norris, Julia Clarke and Outdoor Studios have been commissioned to create work that will celebrate the unique environment of Conningbrook Lakes with a particular focus on the diverse and abundant wildlife.

Three permanent commissions have been created with the themes of VIEW, DWELL and EXPLORE.  A further commission INTERACT is a temporary art programme which aims to engage local schools and park users in workshops and support the main commissions as they are developed.

As part of the development of the commissions, all the artists spent a week in residence at Conningbrook Lakes undertaking research, drawing inspiration and familiarising themslves with the location. 

From left to right:  Andy Evans, Outdoor Studios, Stuart Ian Frost, Tim Norris & Julia Clarke.Gemma Gottelier, Amanda Thesiger and Laura Thomas from Outdoor Studios. 



Tim Norris is an artist whose work draws inspiration from the surrrounding landscape, creatIng inspirational environments that help people to relax, play and enjoy their surroundings. His work encourages a sense of interaction: either by sitting within, clambering over or wandering through and inside. For Conningbrook Lakes Tim will be working on the commission DWELL.

DWELL reflects on living in or inhabiting spaces at Conningbrook Lakes.  The commission could explore reasons to dwell, ponder or contemplate.

Julia Clarke - EXPLORE

Julia Clarke is an artist who works in willow, creating large scale sculptures to living willow structures. Julia  creates work that connects the public to their location, enticing them to engage with living materials.   

For Conningbrook Lakes Julia will be working on commission EXPLORE.

EXPLORE has the opportunity to connect the new development and special landscape together and into the new built environment. The creation of circular walk(s), gateways, meeting places and squares in the residential could be enhanced.  This commission could seek to capture the imagination of visitors and residents.  

Images: Untitled: Steamed Willow at Kew Gardens

Photographs by Paul Mitchell

Outdoor Studios - INTERACT

Outdoor Studios is an artists' collective that came together through Stour Valley Arts, an arts organisation based at King's Wood in Kent that enabled people to explore contemporary art within an ancient woodland setting.  Using natural materials, the artists have extensive experience of delivering art workshops that connect groups to natural environments across a range of arts disciplines.

For Conningbrook Lakes Outdoor Studios will be working on commission INTERACT.

INTERACT supports the permanent artworks and provides engagement activity particulary in the quiet moment of the commission programme.  It centres on collaboration with the commissioned artists, local schools and community groups and interaction in its widest sense with the landscape, people and wildlife. 

The first activity took place at Conningbrook Lakes with pupils from Pheonix Primary School. Outdoor Studios artist Amanda Thesiger took her inspiration for the workshop from Julia Clarke and her EXPLORE commission.  The children learnt about Julia's approach, the materials, sturcture and the way that willow works and what happens when a large artwork takes its place in the landscape.  The year four children also got hands-on experience creating small hand-held sculptural peices with willow sourced from around the park, as well as making images from frottage, painting and drawings. 

VIEW Commission


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