The Mayor of Woking, Councillor Will Forster, joined residents of Kingsmoor Park in Woking and children from Westfield Primary School to unveil three large wooden totem sculptures carved by the community under the guidance of local artist Ruth Wheeler.
As a celebration of the Thames Valley Housing’s new Kingsmoor Park development, the housing association in partnership with Surrey Arts commissioned artist Ruth Wheeler to work with the Woking community to create hand-carved wooden totems reflecting the community heritage.
Over the past year Ruth has been working with children from Westfield Primary School, residents from Kingsmoor Park and the local residents association, to source and finalise ideas and designs, and then to hold community carving workshops to create the sculptures, which are now located beside the playpark in Jelly Way, Kingsmoor Park.
The three totems reflect both historical and current themes – the farmland on which Kingsmoor Park was built, the Liquorice (sweet) factory previously situated on Liquorice Lane and the multi-cultural and multi-lingual community in Woking.
“I was delighted to be commissioned as the artist for the Kingsmoor Totem Community project,” says Ruth, “as it combines my two most favourite things – wood carving and working alongside people to create and carve their dreams. We have made a public piece of art with real meaning and full respect from the community that have made it.”
Woking Mayor, Councillor Will Forster, said: “These totems are a real testament to the talent of the local community, who, working with artist Ruth Wheeler, have combined the rich history of the area with the influences of today’s residents, to create fun and beautiful pieces of sculpture for the Kingsmoor Park community to enjoy for years to come.”
John Baldwin, Thames Valley Housing Chief Executive said: “This year-long creative process has been a true community effort, starting with design and focus workshops with Kingsmoor Park residents and with pupils from Westfield Primary School and then final designs agreed by a design committee. The carving was a true community experience with over 50 families taking part.”
Ruth Wheeler said: “The designs blend the nature surrounding the estate – trees, leaves and doves – the community, represented by hands and spiral Mehendi patterns designed by the school children, and the historical sweet factory, depicted in the liquorice towers. We also wanted the pieces to have a multi-cultural feeling to them reflecting the local community.
Our wish is that the rest of the community will respect the art that the young people have made.”
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