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Ashby’s ‘The Heart of the Forest’ sculpture ready for big reveal

Published: Mon 11 March, 2019

A new piece of public artwork celebrating Ashby de la Zouch’s place in the National Forest and its culture and leisure quarter will be installed this week. 

Sculptor Adrian Moakes was commissioned by North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) to create the ‘The Heart of the Forest’ sculpture, which will stand proudly in the town for shoppers, visitors and residents alike to enjoy. 

On Saturday (16 March), with the artwork in place just off North Street at the entrance to Hood Park Leisure Centre and Ashby Library, everyone will have the opportunity to meet the artist and enjoy the new sculpture. Adrian Moakes

This includes an exhibition and film about how the sculpture was made, with Adrian on hand to answer questions and talk about his creation. This will take place in the library between 10am and 3pm. 

Made out of eight tubular steel curved columns and standing at 8.35 metres at its highest point, the sculpture has been inspired by the National Forest and has been designed especially for North Street. The artwork has a unique interactive element that takes advantage of the open nature of the site and Adrian hopes that it’ll encourage people to appreciate and enhance their own environment. 

Adrian has already visited a number of Ashby schools to demonstrate his project and engage children in drawing and making sculptures from nature. He also held four ‘meet the artist’ sessions around Ashby last year and presented to residents at Hood Court Sheltered Housing. The design proposal received over 99 per cent approval from local people. 

The artwork forms part of NWLDC’s commitment to support Ashby Town Council in its development of the culture and leisure quarter. The £50,000 commission is an addition to the £1.1 million NWLDC already invested to extend North Street car park by 52 spaces, making the town more accessible.

Councillor Alison Smith MBE, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “This sculpture celebrates our place at the heart of the National Forest and is a beautiful design the people of Ashby can be really proud of. 

“We are proud to be supporting the development of Ashby’s culture and leisure quarter with this investment which will provide pleasure to visitors and shoppers for years to come.

“Adrian has worked incredibly hard on this sculpture and the story of its creation is fascinating – attending the meet the artist event this Saturday will be well worth it.” 

Sculptor Adrian Moakes said: “It has been a real honour to work on this project and to have such overwhelming support from everyone I’ve met in Ashby throughout the process. 

“It is actually several sculptures in one – from two distinct viewpoints the shapes magically combine to form the image of a large majestic tree. As you walk around the area, every view will create different combinations of forms and connotations – an avenue of trees, family groups, a line of tall arches, a forest canopy or long grasses blowing in the wind. The branches will reach out in all directions to express a welcoming, all embracing, uplifting and positive image of Ashby. 

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with NWLDC on this project and I hope everyone in Ashby enjoys the sculpture many, many years into the future.”

Councillor John Coxon, Leader of Ashby de la Zouch Town Council, said: “The Town Council is really excited about a significant piece of artwork to mark the Cultural & Leisure Quarter. 

The artist has previously worked on some interesting projects and we can’t wait to see his ideas for Ashby. Our partnership with the District Council is really improving this part of the town.” 

The new piece of artwork is being installed from Wednesday 13 March onwards and will be in place by the weekend. An official opening will take place on Tuesday 19 March.

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