Controversial new sculpture planned for Keynsham is scrapped

Artwork for Development webThe controversial sculpture planned for Keynsham’s new town centre has been scrapped after it was widely criticised.

As we predicted in this week’s issue, it follows a call from Keynsham’s district councillors for a rethink in reaction to the results of two recent polls carried out to measure public response to Bristol artist Seamus Staunton’s plans for a replacement for the landmark old clock tower.

Many letters have been written on the subject and published in The Week In, with some local people likening the design to a “triffid”.

Bath & North East Somerset Council released a statement tonight saying: “Changes are being made by the Keynsham Arts Advisory Group to the public art project that will signify the regeneration of the town centre.

“The first of the two commissions – a proposed sculpture – will not go ahead following consultation with the public which showed that local people were not in favour. The Group will create a brief for a freestanding structure that will include a clock (which was originally the second commission), as well as act as a meeting place.”

The structure will include references to local history and heritage, and the Arts Advisory Group will invite several artists and designers to submit ideas. Consultation on these will take place in the autumn so that the Keynsham community can decide on which design will be commissioned.

The Arts Advisory Group comprises representatives from Keynsham community, businesses and the town council.  Keynsham town councillor Lisa O’Brien, chair of the Group, said: “The consultation result about the sculpture was conclusive. The Arts Advisory Group has listened to local people and acted by deciding instead to adopt a single piece of public art – a freestanding clock with references to local history and heritage. There will be ongoing consultation on the design over the forthcoming months, so that everyone can have the chance to have their say.

“The Advisory Group is looking forward to using the passion, interest and energy of the local community to develop a clock of which local people can feel proud and which will mark the regeneration of Keynsham as a celebrated milestone in the town’s history.

“We have made changes to improve communication links with Keynsham residents. Meetings are now conducted with an elected chair and the recording of minutes which will subsequently be made available for all to see on the Keynsham Town Council website and Arts Advisory Group Facebook page.”

Cllr Paul Crossley, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We’ve always said that the best people to make decisions about the design of a piece of public art that can suitably recognise the rich, vibrant history of Keynsham are local residents. The council is pleased to be working with the Advisory Group and support them on this project. We hope as many people take part in the consultation as possible.”