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Newark: Hunt for local artists to design BookBenches

Ten brightly decorated benches will be seen in Newark this summer and local artists are now being offered the chance to design them.

Newark Creates have partnered with Wild in Art, the organisation behind the Lincoln Imp Trail and the Shaun the Sheep sculptures at Clumber Park, to produce the BookBenches and they’re now on the lookout for ten artists to give them their own colourful and unique flair.

Suggestions for BookBench design inspirations include books, Newark’s history or heritage, rivers, nature and parks, Newark Castle, nursery rhymes, education, storytelling and animals but artists are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild, just as the world of literature encourages.

Five of the artists commissioned will be from Newark and Sherwood and have the opportunity to work with local community groups to develop their ideas and design. The other five artists can be from the wider East Midlands area and will work independently to design and paint their sculpture.

Newark Creates was set up in 2021 as one of the Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone Cultural Programmes and is delivered by the Newark Cultural Consortium. Responsible for last summer’s umbrella installation in the Market Place alongside ADHD Foundation – The Neurodiversity Charity, its aim is to celebrate and animate Newark by rejoicing in its history, creating new experiences, and making the high street a more attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work and spend time.

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Carol Newman, Director of Culture at Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries, the lead partner in the Consortium, said:

“The sculpture trails which Wild in Art have created throughout the country have always been astounding and it’s wonderful that Newark will now boast its own. The BookBenches are sure to create a buzz this summer and I’m excited to see the designs which the artists and community groups create.”

Councillor Rowan Cozens, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and the Arts at Newark and Sherwood District Council, another partner in the consortium, said: “Newark is teeming with hugely talented and creative people so I’m sure that these sculptures will be an incredible sight and a wonderful celebration of culture. I look forward to enjoying them around town and I wish good luck to all who apply!”

A spokesperson for Wild in Art added: “Wild in Art are delighted to be working with Newark Creates to bring our iconic BookBench sculptures to the town this summer. The sculptures make a fantastic canvas for artists and as they can also be comfortably sat on, I am sure they will make a stunning addition to Newark’s public art offering. We can’t wait to see what ideas the local creative community come up with for the designs.”

The BookBenches will launch across Newark town centre on 11 July to coincide with the first day of Newark Book Festival and will remain in situ for 8 weeks. Artists can obtain a copy of the Artist Brief, design template and technical specification by emailing sara.bullimore@inspireculture.org.uk and expressions of interest should be submitted by Friday 23 February.

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