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Burgess Hill Green Circle Public Art Scheme

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Burgess Hill Town Council has invited artist’s submissions to develop a series of five public artworks on the Green Circle in Burgess Hill. The commissions have been awarded to five artists and each artist exhibited their design on Saturday 7 January at the Market Place Shopping Centre, Burgess Hill. A slideshow of the exhibition can be seen below and the feedback received will be looked at by both the Artists and the Steering Group.

The aim of the Burgess Hill Green Circle Public Art Scheme is to start to create an arts trail to enhance public enjoyment of the Green Circle network and provide information about the locality. It also aims to celebrate the history and growth of Burgess Hill by recognising some of its noteworthy inhabitants and their achievements and enhance the Green Circle. The project is funded by Section 106 money (from local developments) and is designated solely for public art.

The project will be overseen by the Public Art Steering Group which consists of representatives of the Friends of Burgess Hill Green Circle Network and the Burgess Hill Local History Society, local Councillors, Burgess Hill Town and Mid Sussex District Council officer(s).   

You can see a slideshow from the exhibition on 7 January below and photographs from each artist's submission by the details of their commission.

A slide show showing the exhibition of proposed designs

COMMISSION 1: Eric Arthur (1912-1998), Kenneth William (1921-2005) & Lewis Hunt Norris (1924-2009), Engineers [Site A, Grassmere Meadow)

Awarded to Steve Geliot
Steve Geliot's design (click on each image to zoom in):

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Eric, Ken and Lew Norris were sons of the engineer in charge of the gasworks at Burgess Hill, Sussex.

Ken started as an apprentice at the Armstrong Whitworth aircraft company at Whitley. He enrolled at Imperial College, London where he studied aeronautical engineering, while also taking business administration part-time at the London School of Economics.

Lew served his apprenticeship with Harland and Wolff at its London docklands shipyard, building landing craft for D-Day. After the war he worked for Burmah Oil and later with their older brother Eric who was an accountant at Kine Engineering, where Donald Campbell was part-owner.

In 1952, Ken, Eric and Lew set up ‘Norris Brothers’, an engineering consultancy in Burgess Hill and Campbell approached them to design a boat to attempt the water speed record. The Norrises created an all-metal hydroplane which became Bluebird K7 which achieved the water-speed record an unparalleled seven times for Britain between 1955 (202.32mph) and 1964 (276.33mph) before Campbell died at close to 300mph on Coniston Water in 1967.

The Norris Brothers also created the Bluebird CN7 car with which Campbell finally secured the land-speed record at 403.1mph on Australia's Lake Eyre in July 1964. Campbell crashed the first version at more than 300mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in 1960 but only sustained minor injuries.

Apart from the Bluebirds, Norris Brothers was responsible for many original concepts, including the go-kart, automatic seat belts and the "honeycomb sandwich" which is still the basis of the crash protection shell used in Formula 1 cars today.


COMMISSION 2: Emily Temple (1811-1874), Burgess Hill Benefactress [Site B, Malthouse Lane Meadow]

Awarded to Helena Roden
Helena Roden's design (click on each image to zoom in):

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Madame Temple was an artist and modeller of wax flowers, who was related to John Cheesman, a highly respected china, glass and earthenware dealer with a business in Brighton. Emily’s business went from strength to strength and by 1855 she had bought premises in London and Brighton.
In 1862, she took up residence in Burgess Hill, where she lived until her death in 1874. During her time in Burgess Hill, she built her own house built on the corner of Leylands Road (redeveloped in the 1960s), five villas in Upper St John’s Road and five pairs of lower priced semi-detached villas in Lower Church Road. Her last project in 1872 was to build the St John’s Working Man’s Institute (now Park Centre) and her generous donations helped to fund the building of St John’s Church.

She left a fund in her will giving every working man’s family in the district one and a half hundred weight of the best coals every Christmas. Her most lasting memorial was the land she bequeathed to the local people, now known as St John’s Park, a 4.9 hectare site in the centre of Burgess Hill.


COMMISSION 3: John Charles Bee-Mason MBE (1875-1957), Filmmaker, Explorer and Naturalist [Site C, Hammonds Ridge Meadow]

Awarded to Alan Potter
Alan Potter's design (click on each image to zoom in):

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A pioneer of early natural history film-making, John Charles Bee-Mason made two short films: “The Bee’s Eviction” (1909), which shows an unprotected Bee-Mason relocating swarms of bees and “The Life of the Honey Bee” (1911) which illustrates the inner workings of a hive in previously unseen detail. These films are now held by the British Film Institute and can be viewed in libraries.
After his success with his beekeeping films, he appears to have become a war photographer during the 1914-18 conflict, travelling in France, Belgium and Russia. He was a member of several scientific expeditions as a cinematographer including Shackleton's final voyage south to the Antarctic on the Quest in 1921/2 and the Oxford University Arctic Expedition in 1924. In 1925/6 he was the official cinematographer on the Algarsson-Worsley British Arctic Expedition and he produced the film Under Sail in the Frozen North. In 1927 he joined Bolivian diplomat Mamerto Urriolagoitia and Julian Duguid, author of the book Green Hell, about in an expedition across the lowland jungles of Bolivia.

During the 1940′s, Bee-Mason made a name for himself advocating the curative powers of honey, and famously devised a cure for rheumatism, which involved the sufferer enduring a bee-sting in the arm. Such was his association with apiarism that at some point in his life he changed his surname officially to Bee-Mason.

Bee-Mason retired to Burgess Hill where he became involved in local politics and became embroiled in a bitter battle over the allocation of council houses and the sale of ARP equipment. The rows became so angry the police were called to a meeting to evict him and he ended up in Brixton Prison where he died in hospital in 1957.


COMMISSION 4: John Saxby (1821-1913), Railway Signalling [Site D, Nightingale Lane Meadow]

Awarded to Jon Mills Ltd
Jon Mills' design (click on each image to zoom in):             

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The building of the London and Brighton Railway started in 1838 and the first station at Burgess Hill was opened in 1843. Between 1840 and 1880 the area changed from a collection of isolated farms into a country town with a population of about 4,500.

One of the earliest forms of railway signaling is the semaphore which was patented in the early 1840s. The first railway semaphore signal was erected on the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) in 1842 and it soon became the most widely used form of mechanical signal.

Two accidents took place on the LB&SCR during the early 1850s due to signaling failures and John Saxby, a LB&SCR carpenter, became interested in railway safety.
In 1856, he patented a form of mechanical interlocking between points and signals (Annett’s Key).

The first fully interlocking frame was installed by Saxby at Keymer Junction in 1860, where he built a small workshop to undertake private work. In 1862, he left the LB&SCR and formed Saxby & Farmer which became the major contractor responsible for building signal boxes as we know them today.

John Saxby died in Hassocks and is commemorated with a modern plaque in Brighton Station.


COMMISSION 5: Wildlife Habitat [Site E, Bedelands Local Nature Reserve]

Awarded to Janine Creaye
Janine Creaye's design (click on each image to zoom in):

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This work should be designed around the local flora and fauna found in the Green Circle. At 33 hectares, Bedelands is the largest green site in Burgess Hill. There are seven meadows set in ancient woodlands, with a great profusion of bugs, birds, bats, amphibians and mammals including the protected Hazel Dormouse and Great Crested Newt. Wildflowers are abundant, so much so that the Millennium Seedbank and High Weald Landscape Trust both harvest seeds here. Plants include bluebells in woodland, adders tongue fern, wild service tree, locally rare sedges, ancient hornbeam and yellow rattle.

The River Adur and a large Mill Pond run along the northern boundary, with the London – Brighton railway along the eastern side. There are a few smaller ponds, as well as a fenced Dipping Pond, complete with platform, which is frequently booked by children’s groups and schools. This beautiful site is regularly enjoyed both by local residents and by visitors from further afield.


Public Art Project Timetable is as follows:
a) Deadline for submissions (16 September 2016)
b) Shortlisting and interviews (October 2016)
Shortlisted artists will be invited to attend an interview during the week commencing 24 October 2016 at Burgess Hill Town Council to make a short presentation to the Public Art Steering Group.   
c) Presentation of concept designs (December 2016) 
Selected artists will be paid a fee to develop initial concept designs to be submitted to the Steering Group and exhibited publicly.   
d) Appointment of artist(s) (January 2017) 
e) Design, fabrication and community engagement (February –August 2017) 
Appointed artists will be required to submit final designs and technical specifications for approval and planning permission, if applicable.  Artists will be expected to participate in community workshops and events to be organised by the Town Council.  
f) Delivery and Installation (September / October 2017)

For more information please contact:

Liz Clark
Operations Section Head
Burgess Hill Town Council
96 Church Walk
Burgess Hill
West Sussex
RH15 9AS
Tel: 01444 238203