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London Competition Carves an Inspiring Future for City Children

14 September 2011

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This month sees the launch of the Isis Education Centre at The LookOut, Hyde Park - an exciting natural haven in the heart of London designed to engage city children with the natural world.

Framing the main entrance to this new eco-friendly building, surrounded by rich wildlife and nature trails, sit the winning pair of wooden pillars, created by London College of Communication art student Kat Flint.

Flint’s beautiful designs have been inspired by William Roscoe’s poem “The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast”. Visitors of varying heights can make eye contact with and touch the different creatures and the spiralling shape draws the viewer around the piece. 

The smooth curves, carved patterns and peepholes encourage visitors to catch a glimpse of the insect world. The species are loosely based on the Holly Blue butterfly (Celastrina argiolus) and Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus), which Flint found particularly appealing as they are both vegetarian!

 Sara Lom, Chief Executive at the Royal Parks Foundation comments;

“We were hugely thrilled with the foundation students’ response to this competition and we were truly inspired by some of the wonderfully creative ideas put forward.  The chosen pair of pillars perfectly capture the essence of the Isis Education Centre, bringing the natural world to life and inspiring its visitors. These new totem poles will make a fabulous focal point for Hyde Park visitors and create a sense of arrival for young children at a unique venue in the heart of London.”

Students from the art foundation course at London College of Communication were asked to design a pair of complementary wooden entrance pillars to create a sense of arrival at the new education centre. They were each asked to explore themes relating to the beauty of nature and local wildlife in their designs and consider the immediate environment and its indigenous wildlife.

All entrants were given a tour of the construction site to better understand the building materials and surrounding nature trail. This helped inspire them to create something that will lead city children to explore the natural world, encouraging them to appreciate wildlife and look after the environment.

The judging panel was chaired by Royal Parks Foundation Trustee, Michael Freeman, who was joined by seven other expert judges to assess submissions from the students. 

The winning designs were judged on creativity, robustness for life in a public park, ease of maintenance and installation, sustainability and environmental impact and affordability. The judges felt that the chosen pair would harmonise with the surroundings of the park and were very complementary to the natural environment in the grounds of the new education centre.

Making of the totem pole for The LookOut, Hyde ParkThe winning designs have been hand carved by master craftsman and renowned wood carver, Dan Cordell, using timber sourced from a fallen oak in Richmond Park. He comments;

“The totem poles are created from 'brown' Oak. This isn't a species but refers to the colouration given to the timber by beefsteak fungus as it attacks the living tree. It is much desired by craftsman and furniture makers for its rich chocolate brown colour.”

Cordell initially started with a chainsaw to carve out the main 8ft sculptural framework and completed the more intricate detailed elements with a chisel.

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