WORK has nearly finished on a public art scheme at the Weymouth Gateway site.
The scheme, co-funded by New Look and Sainsbury’s, has been worked on by artist Andy Kirkby, who lives in Moreton near Dorchester.
The scheme includes three sculptures which will be based at the Mercery Road development.
Installation will be completed at the start of July with the official unveiling by BBC Antiques Roadshow expert and local resident Paul Atterbury, and Weymouth and Portland Mayor Cllr Kate Wheller taking place on July 16.
Mr Atterbury said communities and public art have been hand in hand for centuries.
He said: “Public art has often held the key to community improvement, or even regeneration. “As someone who has always believed in the power of public art, and sculpture in particular, I am delighted to be associated with the Weymouth Gateway project. “Weymouth needs more public art, and this is a great addition to the town's urban landscape.”
Members of the public contributed local stories towards the artwork designs last year.
Mr Kirkby said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the local community in sourcing ideas for the three sculptures.
“The enthusiasm and support I have received has not only helped me in the design process but, I hope, instilled a sense of ownership towards the project as a whole.”
Mr Kirkby was also helped by Radipole illustrator Katie Rewse and manufacturing company Aquarium Technology Ltd (ATL) who are based on the Granby Industrial Estate in Weymouth.
The majority of the sculptures' production took place at Marben Engineering Ltd in Ferndown, and at Andy's studio in Moreton.
Further graphics support was provided by TWF Signs and Graphics of Ferndown.
Councillor Ian Bruce, briefholder for community facilities at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, was the council’s representative on the art project’s team.
He said: “Guided by Nicky Whittenham our Project Manager we interviewed artists from all over the country to select Andy Kirkby as our favourite and I for one was delighted he lives and works right on our doorstep.
“Andy has produced public art in Dorset for many years and while I don’t want to spoil the unveiling surprise, I for one think it his best work ever.
“I hope all of Weymouth will come and see the work and be delighted not only with the fun and visual experience of the pieces but also that they have been delivered at no cost to the tax payer.”
Cllr Rachel Rogers, briefholder for tourism and culture at the borough council, said public art had provided ways for communities to integrate with its environment.
She said: “I am delighted that Weymouth is adding these unique works to its public art portfolio.
“Public art relies on the quality and impact of its exchange with those who interact with it and I would encourage all local residents and visitors to the area to come and be part of that interaction."
Nicky Whittenham, public art consultant and project manager, said: “As a local resident who loves Weymouth and its history, it was always important to me have the involvement of the community, central to this commission.
“We struck gold with local artist Andy Kirkby whose first move was to engage with local people to discover their stories about the local area.
“These stories inspired Andy to create three innovative, imaginative and thought-provoking sculptures.
“From the seeds of the community’s stories, an amazing visual celebration of some of the diverse heritage of our town and local area has grown.
“The Weymouth Gateway scheme is a wonderful example of contemporary public art.”
An exhibition, which reflects Mr Kirkby’s early designs for the sculptures and provides background to the project, will be held in Sainsbury's foyer from the beginning of July.
An online blog has been set up at www.andykirkby.com where people can keep up to date with the project’s developments.
The three sculptures include:
1. 'Under the Hill': The artist's design for the bus shelter to be sited outside the Sainsbury's store on Mercery Road, relates to the folklore about music being heard from underneath the ground at Bincombe Bumps.
2. 'Frame': This sculpture's design echoes the 'fashion' nature of New Look's operations and has, etched into its surface, designs - by local illustrator Kate Rewse - celebrates some of the contributed community's stories. It is Andy's way of 'reflecting' back to the community what people told him during the engagement process. The wheels used are resonant of those which can be seen on King George III's bathing machine near the King's statue.
3. 'Torpedosaur': This design reflects the Jurassic Coast heritage of our area, combined with the Whitehead torpedo factory legacy (the body of the 'torpedosaurs' are being constructed from real torpedo casings). The throne reflects King George III's love of the town as a holiday destination.