Friends of Marple Memorial Park Pavilion Art Project
The seeds of an idea for an art project...
In April 2018, during discussions about maintenance of the former bowling pavilion in our park, we realised that by removing an old disused noticeboard we could create a large blank “canvas” for a potential artwork project under the pavilion canopy.
Our committee of volunteers loved the idea because the pavilion was build by soldiers who returned from WWI in memory of their comrades who were lost and it would be a wonderful commemoration.
Potential art providers and sources of inspiration were discussed and a number of possibilities were explored. We spoke with the Society of Marple Artists; several of their members were interested but as individuals were worried about the size of the project. We turned to Marple College and a group of art students; they and their tutor were very keen but also decided not to go ahead because of the size of the commitment.
Art Stop CIC inspire us!
We were still exploring possibilities when we were contacted by Art Stop CIC, who were responsible for the award winning Inter-generational Art Project at nearby Rose Hill Station.
We were inspired by their achievements at Rose Hill and the possibility of linking up with other similar projects across the area to become part of a larger Marple Art Trail.
So Friends of the Park joined forces with Art Stop CIC to develop a new project to link-up with and build on this success by creating more platforms for different generations to connect through community art and to enhance the appearance of the former WWI Bowling Pavilion within our busy Community Park.
About the former Bowling Pavilion
The Pavilion – long ago converted to a tool store and mess room by the council - and now shared with Friends of the Park - was constructed in 1923 by local soldiers who returned from the WWI battlefields in memory of their fallen comrades. So the building is actually a war memorial built by soldiers and we feel it's very important to remember and commemorate this.
The building features a large area under an enclosed canopy visible from far across the Bowling Green. We believe that this presents a great blank canvas for a community art project that would enhance the building and the park itself. We feel the theme should reflect its history - but in an uplifting way - picking up on the WWI theme but also reflecting the beauty, peacefulness, nature and floral and fauna of the park.
The Pavilion building also features a blank brick wall visible from the Infants Play Area and the pathway going past the library. As this wall is approachable we realised it could be used to extend the new artwork in a style giving it stronger links to the Rose Hill Project. This would be the next step in creating a larger Community Art Trail at multiple locations around Marple that could get people out and about and moving between the different sites.
A strategy develops
The full project brief includes artwork on both sides of the former Bowling Pavilion
Following an unsuccessful £10k bid to Awards for All in 2019 for the full project, Friends of Marple Memorial Park decided to reduce the funding commitment needed to get started by splitting the project into two phases. We chose to tackle the Pavilion Art Roundels on the rear of the building first, as it would have the greatest visibility and involve more volunteer artists. It also provides the strongest link with the successful Rose Hill Station Intergenerational Art Project.
A mock-up of how Phase I might look using images from Rose Hill
Phase I - Pavilion Roundels Art Project Funding
A minimum of £1,500 of further community support was needed to enable Phase I to begin and this was generously awarded by The Macnair Trust in May 2020. As this was in the middle of lock-down it was not possible to start immediately but the funds were committed to the project by the Trust pending us being able to start once restrictions were lifted sufficiently.
Phase II is planned as a large collaborative mural under the gated canopy of the former Bowling Pavilion that we are calling the "Under Canopy Artwork" Project. The intention is that this will be visible from far across the park. Look out for more about this in the future.
Here's what the Macnair Trust said about the project when they made the award for Phase I:
As a small local charity, the Macnair Trust may use its funds only to further strictly defined charitable objectives which benefit the public within the Marple area, so that geographically the Memorial Park could hardly be more central. We are absolutely delighted to be involved with the Pavilion Roundels Art Project, which ticks so many of the boxes in terms of causes we are more than happy to support.
By bringing new life to a building of historic significance it will preserve and greatly enhance local amenities and the park itself. In particular, it will encourage open-air recreational activities and contribute towards the welfare of local children, whilst promoting art for the benefit of the public.
Marple Area Committee is supporting the project too
In addition to the funding provided by FoMMP and the Macnair Trust, Marple Area Committee kindly approved a request for £775 to pay for the hard-standing in front of our mural on the former Bowling Pavilion at their July 2020 Area Committee Meeting. The hard standing surface is needed to ensure safe access for all types of pedestrians to get up close and view the roundel artworks, including visitors with prams or pushchairs, wheelchair and mobility scooter users, or less mobile walkers.
Thank you to local councillors for supporting this project and your kind comments about it during your meeting.
The project is adapted for Lockdown!
We thought carefully about how we could manage the project in light of the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic.
During the award winning Rose Hill Station Project groups of individual artists were invited communal workshops to create their artwork and all the children's discs were created in workshops conducted in their schools by Art Stop CIC. This had been our plan too but obviously this wasn't possible under Covid19 restrictions, so a new approach was needed.
Instead we focused on engaging with people to submit their designs online via social media and community web sites or public drop-off.
Submission of Artwork Sketches
A deadline of 14 September 2020 was set for colour sketch entries from individual members of the general public. The competition was launched in July and promoted via social media, the Marple Website, the Marple Review newspaper and posters in the Memorial Park notice boards. A special email address was set-up for digital submissions and hard copy entries were collected at Marple Stationery Supplies. 40+ entries were received and all of them were invited to paint their roundels in their own homes with email and telephone support.
Engagement with schools proved much more difficult than would normally be expected due to the pandemic but the primary schools were contacted on their return in September 2020 and given a deadline of 5 October for their submissions. The schools were asked to select their top 10 entries but several submitted far more than this. A total of 146 entries from the local primary schools were received and a large number of these were selected to submit final artwork. The primary schools have been very flexible and as well as the children doing their artwork at home, Art Stop have also been able to do many socially distanced workshops in school with small groups of children.
Like the primary schools, Marple Hall school presented new challenges for engagement. However this was also done successfully by Art Stop and lots of great submissions were received by the deadline of 5 November 2020 that students were given. The school told us that they had chosen art students who did well during their lock-down lessons and assignments as a reward for their good work and that was reflected in the quality of the submissions we received.
In addition to the public and school competitions, 20 highly proficient and successful local artists were asked to submit roundels too. These are still coming in as both sketches for consideration and final works. The standard has been very exciting and we've been blown-away by the wonderful artwork submitted for this project.
Pavilion Roundels Art Project (Phase I) latest news
Art Stop CIC did a wonderful job for us!
Collection and submission of finished discs went really well and Friends of the Park were delighted with the efforts of Art Stop CIC to manage the project for us during such difficult times. We'd like to acknowledge what a brilliant job that Tracy (McGuinness-Kelly) and her team of artists have done despite ongoing government restrictions.
There there was a huge amount of work done by Tracy and Rhian at Art Stop to prepare and finish the submitted roundels for mounting on the display panels in the park.
We've illustrated this page with some galleries of completed roundels including this one showing several artists with their work:
Installation completed in June 2021
Exactly when we could install the artwork in the park was very much up-in-the-air until we began to find our way out of lockdown in May.
Even then, it took a long time for the council to relax their constraints on using cordless power-tools in the park, which was essential for the installation of the framework and boards that the roundels were to be mounted on. The council also took a long time to approve our method statement and risk assessment for installing the roundels but we were eventually given the all-clear on 21 June and installed the boards on Saturday 26 June and the artwork on Monday 28 June 2021.
It was wonderful for Friends of the Park to finally work with Tracy, Pete and Rhian from Art Stop to install the roundel artwork painted by Marple people of all ages during the 2020 lockdown.
We are delighted with the outcome of this project and especially thankful to Tracy McGuinness-Kelly for her hard work, enthusiasm and ability to work in innovative ways to overcome the difficulties imposed by the Covid19 pandemic while complying with government guidelines at all times.
Thanks to everyone who contributed artwork - they are all wonderful but when displayed together become more than the sum of their parts.
Thanks also to the Macnair Trust and Marple Area Committee for your contributions toward the funding for this project, and to all our volunteers who have helped in different ways.
We have a few small jobs to finish things off, then it's hopefully onwards and upwards for Phase II of this project.
So watch this space and keep an eye on our Friends of Marple Memorial Park Pavilion Art Project Facebook Page and our Twitter account too for news of Phase II.