Crows of Bicester

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Client: Cherwell District Council

Location: Bicester, United Kingdom

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $76,050

Project Team

Artist

Philip Bews Diane Gorvin

Artist

Sally Fawkes Richard Jackson

Jackson Fawkes Glass

Artist

Sonja Klingler

Sonja Klingler Glass

Industry Resource

Chris Butler

Castle Fine Arts Foundry

Industry Resource

Paul Janes Sharon Janes

PJ Engineering

Overview

The Crows of Bicester sculptures were commissioned by Cherwell District Council, funded by Sainsburys. Four stainless steel arcs – 3m long, with each arc supporting a crow, two bronze crows, and two cast glass. The brief was to create archways, placed in three alley sites around the town centre development in the ancient market town of Bicester. The alleys link the historic part – from Sheep Street, to the new development in Pioneer Square. The commission was part of a section 106 planning requirement for the developers. Work installed to fit building programme from 2013 until May 2016.

Goals

Design Brief for Bicester New Town Centre Development .

These were the important elements required for the artworks.

Create beautiful artworks to enhance the town and square's environment.
Design high quality features that assist way finding and legibility in the public realm. Take inspiration from the location, history and unique character of Bicester.

Five archways lead from Sheep Street, into alleyways that follow the ancient street layout, but end in a contemporary space. The alleys should be used as sites for the artworks, which can include signage and metal archways.

Process

Bews and Gorvin, www.bewsgorvin.co.uk collaborate in making public artworks. After research they designed stainless steel arcs with attached crow sculptures.

Crows are handsome, intelligent birds, toolmakers, skilled at aerial displays, homemakers with strong family ties, and they adapt from rural to urban locations. All these aspects relate to the town and square's history and development.

The two cast glass crows have a surface texture, combining lace and pattern. Lace making was a cottage industry in Bicester, and Bicester is known for designer fashion.

The flying bronze crow has two themes - the RAF and Homemakers. The RAF used to have a base near Bicester, it is represented by a wing - featuring plane parts instead of feathers, with the RAF logo. The other wing is feathered, the crow is shown taking off with a stick in its beak to add to its nest - symbolising the new eco-homes being built in Bicester.

Sited in Crown Walk, the bronze Crow playfully steals the letter N from the word Crown.

The artists liaised with Architects www.lsharch.co.uk over siting and fixings. Glass crows cast, and cold worked, by www.jacksonfawkes.com. Bronze crows cast, and stainless steel arcs fabricated by Castle Fine Art Foundry. www.bronzefoundry.co.uk

Additional Information

The trail of six crows was completed next to the new library in 2016, by the bronze Bell Crow, (18th Century Bicester had a Bell Foundry), and Crow's Nest - a welded crow, solar lights and Oak plinth (which will weather grey) with glass eggs by Sonja Klingler Glass. In 2014 the artists conducted a slide talk and workshop to carve a crow themed, oak relief. Diane created a website about the crows for schools to use - www.imxprs.com/free/dianesculpt/crowsculptures The video has music by Lola Perrin - On The Gradient Trail. www.lolaperrin.com.