Public art project installed in Hunston

Blacksmith Alex Smith, Chichester councillor Tricia Tull, left, and Affinity Sutton development officer Clare Coxsell with the lily panel
Blacksmith Alex Smith, Chichester councillor Tricia Tull, left, and Affinity Sutton development officer Clare Coxsell with the lily panel
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Two metal panels depicting flora and fauna have been placed in Hunston.

Blacksmith Alex Smith worked on the public art project with pupils from North Mundham Primary School.

Bending the top horizontal for the bush effect on the wheat panel

Bending the top horizontal for the bush effect on the wheat panel

He took inspiration from the canal and the village to create the 2m x 1m panels, which are now placed near the Chichester ship canal.

The work was commissioned by Affinity Sutton, which is building housing developments in Hunston.

Alex, who works at Chalk Pit Forge in Amberley Museum, said: “Hunston has plenty of character. It is a beautiful place with a canal, which is used only for pleasure trips, so there is plenty of wildlife. This was my main inspiration, as well as the fields of wheat that Hunston produces.

“I work on all kinds of bespoke commissions and this latest work was an inspiring project.”

Alex at work at Chalk Pit Forge, drawing down flat

Alex at work at Chalk Pit Forge, drawing down flat

He was originally contacted by Chichester City Council and asked to take part in a public art design competition.

“The brief was very open and I decided the best way to go about it was to keep it simple and use Hunston’s character as inspiration,” explained Alex.

He was asked to involve North Mundham Primary School in the design stage, so set up a creative brainstorming session.

“I explained how blacksmiths heat metal in order to carry out various techniques, such as splitting, forging and twisting, to manipulate the material,” said Alex.

Punching the eye for the perch

Punching the eye for the perch

“They all seemed amazed. Then I asked them what they liked about Hunston and they said swans, water ripples, lilies, swaying reeds, bull rushes, canal boats and the play park.

“They then started to draw and cut shapes out to create their own scenes. I watched and thought how easily they were finding visual connections and composition, and felt a little bewildered with my educated approach that seems stifled compared to their natural perception.

“After a lot of inspiring each other, I went away with lots of ideas and a greater understanding of what people like about Hunston and how all the different characters of Class 4 were visually perceiving things.”

Alex drew up the final designs and started making them at the forge using techniques such as repousse for the wheat, forging for the reeds, bending for the stems and reeds, and dishing and chiseling for the lilies.

Alex Smith, Affinity Sutton development officer Clare Coxsell and Tricia Tull with the wheat panel

Alex Smith, Affinity Sutton development officer Clare Coxsell and Tricia Tull with the wheat panel

The panels took nine weeks to make and were then galvanised and installed in Hunston.

Visit www.chalkpitforge.co.uk for more information on Alex’s bespoke commissions and the techniques he uses.

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