Southam Stories 2005/07
Location : Southam, Warwickshire
Materials : Green English Oak
Commissioned by: Warwickshire County Council/Vision4Southam

In 2005 I was commissioned by Vision4Southam to create a significant sculpture which would link to another project I was undertaking for Southam - the Holy Well Trail commission. The sculpture, entitled Southam Stories, was to be placed in the town centre. I settled on a highly visible site directly in front of the library, facing the high street.

As a development of earlier projects I had undertaken, I wanted to explore the idea of heritage in a broader sense (our personal and collective sense of place and belonging). Heritage typically will focus on the ‘main events’ that have occurred - a battle here, a visit by a famous person there etc. These elements were included, but In addition to such events I wanted to look beneath the skin of the community, and explore something of the multitude of everyday events that occur which can become memories and stories. These many and disparate events when seen together might combine to create a sense of a particular community or place.

 

 

 

I set about designing a structure which could incorporate a series of woodcarvings, to be designed and carved in oak by the local community. The project incorporated an extensive oral history project, where I encouraged participants to explore their own stories and memories, as well as those of friends and relatives.

 

 

I devised and ran a series of workshops which took the form of short residencies, working with all four Southam schools. An extraordinary range of recollections came out of the project, and along with them people talking and sharing across time and generations. Southam Stories incorporates thirty woodcarvings in the form of circular ‘bosses’, designed and carved by nearly one hundred children and adults from the community.

 

 

A fifty page A5 booklet entitled 'Southam Stories' has been published to celebrate the project. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, It was designed by the artist and produced by Stratford District Council. The booklet is available free of charge at Southam Library.