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Anderton Nature park Access & Interpretation Project

Commissioned by The Friends of Anderton and Marbury.

In 2010 Karen Allerton and Tracey Cartledge completed a commission entitled “Anderton Nature park Access & Interpretation Project” to create a gateway feature at the famous Anderton Boat Lift site in Cheshire.

The finished entrance feature, which comprises of two cast ‘carved” stone obelisks, guides visitors onto a safe walkway from the car park towards key visitor attractions. The details in the carving relate to the sites history as explored and developed in the workshops with a local school and the obelisks themselves relate to the site, with different stone being chosen in each of the ’strata’ to reference the salt, the coal and the transitions of the lands use in the sites history.

Tracey and I worked closely with a dedicated Y6 class from Comberbach Primary School, parents and teachers and other members of the local community, in particular the Friends of Anderton and Marbury, the Countryside Rangers and British Waterways Staff to develop design ideas, using a wide scope of creative activities including printing, 3D model making, salt dough modeling and wire drawings to name just a few.

As part of the commission the pupils were involved in all the stages of the design of the artwork. They took part in the initial research stage with site visits to the Anderton Boat Lift, the adjacent nature reserve, where they were given a guided tour of the site with interactive educational elements from the local ranger, and a trip to the Salt Museum.

In a follow on session, at school Tracey and I brought in images and styles of different public artworks and asked them to consider what they thought made good and bad art, we also informed them about choices of materials needed for work in the public realm.

Once they were armed with all this information we took in various

materials and created sculptural maquettes in groups, the class then chose the best concepts from the groups creations and developed their ideas for the final piece. Tracey and I then created their artwork in cast stone pieces with a wrought iron top section.

The types of stone used in the cast blocks were selected to represent aspects of the Anderton Park site. The darkest granite blocks were influenced by coal and carbon and the top sections are white with dolomite that sparkles just like salt crystals when it catches the light. We wanted the sculptures to convey the notion that this beautiful nature park evolved as a result of its industrial history and the waste products that were left here. The forged steel work represents the patterns in the boat lift that blend out into images copied from wire drawings that Y6 made of some of the natural flowers and insects that now live here – their position at the very top is to show the triumph of nature over all else.

“Local artists Tracey Cartledge and Karen Allerton, who are experienced both in working with schools and community groups, and in producing public art, were selected to undertake the work. Comberbach Primary School agreed that its Year 6 pupils could become involved in the project. Their participation included visits to Anderton Boat Lift, a river trip supported by British Waterways and a visit to the Salt Museum to explore the local impact of salt mining. Several workshops were held in school to produce models and images representing the industries associated with the area and the nature park, both in the past and today. This artwork formed a major focus in developing the sculptures and Tracey and Karen have managed to incorporate many of the images in the final pieces. The two magnificent finished sculptures have been installed in the path leading to the Boat Lift. Plaques installed at the bases of the sculptures show that many different organisations were involved in this successful partnership project: INEOS Enterprises, Cheshire West and Chester, British Waterways, WeaverValley,ComberbachPrimary School and FoAM.

” Frances Findlay, June 2010.

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