Leysdown Rose -Tinted
Art in Regeneration Scheme
As the appointed Project Managers for Leysdown Rose-tinted, FrancisKnight worked alongside Swale Borough Council to lead and deliver an arts in regeneration scheme on the eastern tip of the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. We commissioned artists selected for their empathetic approach to the Leysdown Rose-tinted Vision, with art works and engagement that had a clear and meaningful relationship to the village.
Our role was to programme a series of commissions that demonstrated an incremental approach with community engagement and fundraising. Over a three-year period, we commissioned 12 pieces of permanent artwork by 12 artists, ranging from a website to signage and seating, and a rose garden. These projects have attracted funding worth over £200,000 and over 1,000 people have taken part in many of the workshops, exhibitions and associated activities.
“FrancisKnight led an ambitious portfolio of bold commissioning through a diverse range of art forms. New improved signage, seating, and planting revived access to the landscape and quality of the environment, linking spaces and connecting communities. Confident and inspiring commissioning helped change the public perception and image of Leysdown-on-Sea." – Lyn Newton, Swale Borough Council
Major partners associated with the programme included: The Tate, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Rural Development Programme for England and Arts Council England and Kent County Council. Funding from local sources, included the Queenborough Fisheries Trust, Swale Council for Voluntary Services and Leysdown Parish Council.
Spinney Rose Garden
The Spinney Rose Garden commission worked with the local community to select a new planting scheme for the Spinney; a well used public green space in the heart of the village.
The planting scheme devised by the Park & Open Spaces Officer at Swale Borough Council includes 21 varieties of roses, a mixture of shrubs, grasses, and hedging that will flower and create interest throughout the year.
Alun Heslop, award-winning artist/designer of exceptional sculptural seating and form, was commissioned to produce a piece of work for the garden. The resulting 10 sculptural forms are inspired by the shapes of the many razor fish shells found on the sandy and shell beaches in Leysdown. Alun hand-carved the shapes, that are made from solid green oak; now sited, they will age slowly to a silver colour. A stainless steel construction holds the sculptures in place and has been chosen for its robust quality and rust-free properties.
Can - Do Signage
Six shiny jewel-like signs are dotted around the village and surrounding area of Leysdown. They are located to delight whoever stumbles across them and to celebrate its beautiful views, natural assets and the character of the people and place.
Writer in residence Mark Hewitt spent time in and around the village talking to local residents and visitors about Leysdown.
The signs are made of vitreous enamel, fabricated by AJ Wells and Sons and the colours are taken from the Leysdown-specific colour palette.
Artist Laura Boswell was commissioned to create the unique village sign welcoming visitors to the area. Laura is a printmaker who uses innovative techniques and specialises in freehand painting of large-scale vitreous enamel. The sign is double-sided and made up of four separate steel panels with vitreous enamel coating, a suitable material for permanent exposure to the coastal environment. The colours used reference the Leysdown-specific colour palette. Her designs pick up on the images of the coastline and countryside but also connect people to the landscape, best loved places, seasons and memories of the seaside village.
Mark Hewitt has created a narrative that welcomes people to the village and gives visitors and holidaymakers an idea of what they could do and see in Leysdown.
Both Mark and Laura have effectively combined through imagery and words the landscape, the beach and the sea, the people, the pride and fun of the holiday village.
"I hope my sign represents the enormous pride people have in the village and the individuality of the place. It's a fun place to be, as well as being surrounded by areas of great beauty. The sign has the function to direct and inform the visitor, but I hope it's also a celebration – I've had great fun on this project. I've also had some of the best fish and chips – delicious!"
- Laura Boswell
Artist Alun Heslop was commissioned to make 'The Raptor' and 'The Edge' as part of the Isle of Harty Trail, a 9.5 Km cycle route that links Leysdown - on – Sea with the Isle of Harty. The RSPB Capel Fleet Raptor site was chosen by Alun for 'Raptor' as a dynamic space to place seating guaranteeing views of the Marsh Harrier and as a place to sit and reflect the landscape. 'The Edge', a sculptural piece, reflects the sense of intertwining flight and is placed close to Swale Nature Reserve to encourage cycle visitors to stay and explore this wonderful area.
A collaboration with Mark Hewitt has incorporated text into the commissions reflecting on the spirit of flight.
"Many thanks for your work on the resting place which, through successful collaboration with the landowner, the RSPB, and the artist, has resulted in a significant enhancement of the Capel Fleet Raptor viewpoint."
- Rolf Williams, Communications Officer – Kent, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.