New public art, which will enhance a route from King’s Lynn railway station to the river, is set to be installed after planning permission was granted.
The public art, designed with input from local school children, will include a piece of artwork at the railway station that centres on a design of two 8ft panels imprinted with split feathers which pay homage to the Norfolk tradition of travellers splitting the Grey Goose Feather. The tradition dictated that any fellow person who produced a split feather and an accompanying secret password was guaranteed help, whatever the personal cost. The location of this piece at the station aims to build on this history and convey welcome, friendship, and assistance.
The artwork will see the two split feathers line up and match together, meaning that as passers-by stand in the correct position, the two halves of the feather will align to form the complete feather. The piece has been designed with pupils from Eastgate and St Michael’s schools who have devised a contemporary secret code for the artwork, further reflecting its historical inspiration.
Meanwhile, an additional piece of artwork will soon be found at St James’ Swimming Pool themed around the changing shape of King’s Lynn over the centuries, as illustrated by the River Great Ouse and inspired by a map from 1588. Also in two parts, this piece will form one artwork that, when viewed from the right spot, will give the impression of moving water.
This piece also includes a Shakespeare quote from Richard II. Richard II has firm links to King’s Lynn as not only did several local families feature in the play in 1386, the town loaned £100 to Richard II – the fifth largest loan made by an urban centre at the time.
The artworks have been designed by Adrian Riley and Annabel McCourt, who were appointed following a competitive commissioning process, and are being carried out as part of the Town Deal funded Rail to River project. This project will maximise the experience for people arriving at the railway station, a main entrance point into the town, and create an appealing route from here towards the river. A key aim of the project is to create a better connection between the riverside and the town and highlight the riverside area to visitors as they arrive into King’s Lynn, encouraging footfall into this part of town.
Improvements have already been carried out as part of the project, including new benches, fingerpost signage, and a digital sign that has recently been installed at the station to promote events and activities to people coming into King’s Lynn.
And, in the coming months, further work is planned with a new arch at the entrance to Purfleet Street set to be created. The arch has also been designed with the engagement of local children who have played an instrumental role in the ‘ecology’ themed design that includes leaves, a theme that will be carried through to the pop-ups that will be coming soon to the area. The Towns Fund investment in the whole Rail to River project and all of the improvements is £245k.
The new public artworks are expected to be installed at St James Swimming Pool in February, followed by at the railway in early spring.
Councillor Simon Ring, Cabinet Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing said: “The new public artworks will not only enhance the welcome and experience for people arriving at the railway station, they will also add appeal to a busy route in the town. Together, they can also offer the beginning of an art trail.
“The artworks have been carefully and respectfully designed to reflect aspects of our heritage, with the goose feathers creating a visual monument to a local tradition.
“And, it is great that young people have played a part in shaping the plans, adding their ideas and creativity to these two really striking and attractive designs.
“Together with the improvements that have already taken place through the project, and with the further work planned for the coming months, we will be able to clearly see the difference the investment is making for King’s Lynn.”
Harrison McNaught, King’s Lynn Town Deal Board’s Champion for the Rail to River project, said: “Through the Rail to River project, and supported by the Towns Funding, we have a fantastic opportunity to improve the appeal and accessibility of different sites and locations in the town centre.
“With improvements such as the finger post signs and the new digital sign, we are making it easier for people to come in and enjoy all that King’s Lynn has to offer.
“Now, with the engaging and inspiring new artwork, we have the chance to make a key route more attractive, and convey aspects of our local history.
“I am looking forward to seeing the artworks installed this year along with the other improvements that we will be delivering as part of this project that will add to people’s experiences of our town centre.”