Bristol artist Seamus Staunton has come up with designs for a structure which would stand in front of the new library and civic building which he considers will act as the new ‘meeting place’ in the town. An advisory group, apparently comprising of representatives from B&NES, the Town Council as well as local arts and community organisations, produced a brief earlier this year and met with the artist in June. Although now based in Bristol, he admitted at the time he had only been to Keynsham once before and two walking tours were arranged to show him the key landmarks of Keynsham’s history and heritage. The fruits of Seamus Staunton’s works were displayed at the library during the first two weeks of August. But Judi Grant from the Civic Society has criticised the lack of openness and public consultation during the process. “Willmott Dixon have followed exactly the same pattern as B&NES by spending money allocated to the project on appointing a company chosen by them to ‘facilitate’ this enterprise. They, in turn, have commissioned an artist all with no prior consultation with us” she said.
Certainly at The Week In, we had not received any notification about the public art project, understood to be costing £100,000, and had to ask the commissioning consultants appointed by B&NES for copies of the illustrations you see here. During the two weeks the design was on display at Keynsham Library, members of the public were able to say whether or not they liked it.
Judi Grant commented: “This sculpture is important enough to warrant a major design competition, the winner being chosen by public vote. It is our town, our town centre and we are the ones who will be living with it.”
She also expressed concern that the artist has insisted on using a specific foundry in Sheffield to cast the works while the Society has obtained quotes more local to Keynsham which appear considerably cheaper. The giant ‘flower’ design is intended to represent the arches of St John’sChurch according to Seamus Staunton. It also acts as a counter balance to the rectangular structures which will form the backdrop.