A family which has loved visiting Wicksteed Park for generations is being sought to help create an iconic life-sized statue representing how the park has encouraged and inspired children’s play for decades.
The new statue will be unveiled to mark the completion of the £2 million lake restoration project, which has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund along with Northamptonshire County Council and Kettering Borough Council.
Now the Wicksteed Charitable Trust, which owns and operates the park, is appealing for a family to provide the models for the two figures it will comprise.
The Trust hopes that the new piece of art, sited in the lakeside paddling area restored as part of the restoration project, will become a focal point for visitors to the park and provide a unique photo opportunity for families for generations to come.
The lake was one of the park’s major attractions when it was formerly opened in 1921 by founder Charles Wicksteed as part of his vision to inspire and encourage play as part of families’ health and well-being.
It has been returned to its former glory, with 50,000 cubic meters of lake silt being removed and the lake deepened, with new developments including a paddling area for toddlers, a beach and a 90m pontoon.
Oliver Wicksteed, chairman of the Wicksteed Charitable Trust and Charles Wicksteed’s great grandson, said: “The statue will represent how childhood has changed through the decades but also how, in many ways, the simple pleasures of play have remained the same.
“It will feature two young children playing and we thought it would be a great idea to represent two children through the decades that the park has been open.
“We would like the family to have a special connection or love of the park and they may comprise an elderly grandparent who was around in the 1920s, and has a photograph of themselves as a young child, and a young grandchild from the present day.
“There may be a family out there who have a dog just like Jerry, Charles Wicksteed’s pet dog, who loves going for walks in the park.
“Or they may have another compelling reason why they should be involved.”
Artist Clare Abbatt, an Associate Member of the Northampton Town & County Art Society who has exhibited in London and across the UK, has been commissioned to complete the statue, which will be accompanied by a plaque marking the contribution to the lake restoration project of HLF, Trustees and volunteers.
The models chosen for the statue would need to be available to visit Clare at her studio in Northampton two or three times as part of the modelling process.
As well as the statue, other new attractions at the park for 2014 include a zip wire, bund play tunnels constructed out of natural materials to encourage children to crawl and explore, a Bah Humbug hand-made sweet shop, Waxhands hand modelling and a refurbished café.
The lake restoration also includes the conservation of the redundant roundhouse, a 1924 lakeside shelter, which has been repaired, bringing it back into use as a focus for lakeside activities.
A large amphitheatre, new pathways providing access around the entire lake for the first time and an arboretum have also been created.
If you would like to nominate a family to help with the statue project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org telephone 01536 512475 or contact the park through Facebook www.facebook.com/wicksteedpark or Twitter @WicksteedPark.