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Residents’ views sought on ‘showpiece’ Roundabout Art

Tamworth residents are being asked to give their input into the design of a new ‘showpiece’ landmark which will welcome visitors to the town as they step off the train.

The borough council’s Arts and Events team has commissioned award-winning public artist and sculptor Luke Perry to design a striking sculpture for the Mill Lane roundabout outside Tamworth Railway Station to highlight the town’s heritage and culture.

As a community engagement project, the views and ideas of local residents will be sought to help form the final design. Luke is hosting a public consultation evening at Tamworth Town Hall in Market Street on Friday February 3, between 6pm and 8pm, when people will be invited to have their say.

Luke said: “Even though I know Tamworth quite well, it’s very important to get a feeling for how people identify themselves with an area and what they feel strongly about. As well as a gaining a general understanding of their values, I’ll also be asking people to share specific ideas for the sculpture. My job then is to boil all this down and turn it into an iconic sculpture – and that’s what I love doing.

“We want to make it a landmark, so people come out of the station and know immediately that they are in Tamworth, with a real sense of arrival. It should encourage the eyes to flow towards Victoria Road and entice people to explore further into the town centre.”

Although there is a relatively blank canvas, the statue needs to be tall enough to make an impact on the surrounding street scene, it should naturally direct people towards the town centre and it needs to stand the test of time.

Luke is a well-known artist across the Midlands but has become a real champion of Tamworth, having previously designed the Trotters Trail pig sculptures and the new carved flagstones on Ladybridge.

“Tamworth is becoming a much more exciting place and I’m very fortunate to be a part of that. I’ve been making monuments for more than 10 years, but never on a roundabout before. This has the opportunity to be a real showpiece,” Luke added.

As well as the consultation evening, Luke will also be meeting with groups such as Tamworth Heritage Trust, the Peel Society and the Friends of Tamworth Castle, and hitting the streets to canvas the opinions of shoppers.

The ‘Roundabout Art’ project is one element of the Arts in Unusual Spaces initiative, funded by Arts Council England, which will see art in all its forms popping up in a variety of locations across the borough in a bid to create and nurture new audiences during the closure of Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

The sculpture is being funded jointly by Tamworth Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Tamworth Gateways Project – which aims to improve links to the town centre. The second phase of Gateways is currently underway, with £500,000 being spent on improving both the visual aspect and accessibility of the roads around Tamworth Railway Station and routes to the town centre.

The project is a partnership between Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council. In the first phase, completed last year, a number of improvements were carried out along the route linking Ventura Park and the town centre.

Cllr Steve Claymore, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Regeneration, said: “As a council, we have been working very hard to improve and regenerate Tamworth town centre and to turn it into a real destination once more. The Gateways project is a crucial part of that and this sculpture has the potential to become a key landmark. “Currently, there’s nothing to welcome people when they arrive in Tamworth by train, so hopefully this will impress visitors as soon as they step out of the station and encourage them to explore the town further and enjoy everything it has to offer.”

Cllr Joy Goodall, Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, added: “Tamworth has an amazingly rich heritage and culture and it’s something we should be very proud of. Roundabout Art is about celebrating that history and culture so that even if people get off the train and straight into a taxi, they will still know they have visited a town with a real sense of identity and historical and cultural importance.”

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