Corby community sculptures looking shipshape with help from Kettering company

The project will bring together volunteers, artists, industry, a drone pilot, RAF divers and the mayor in a boat

By Alison Bagley
Friday, 24th January 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 12:07 pm
l-r Paul Balmer, with Cooney Marine staff members : Kieran McDonnell (senior manager), Carl Gadsden (design engineer), Luke Elmore (supervisor - bending), 
Jon McNicol (apprentice tube bender).
l-r Paul Balmer, with Cooney Marine staff members : Kieran McDonnell (senior manager), Carl Gadsden (design engineer), Luke Elmore (supervisor - bending), Jon McNicol (apprentice tube bender).

A pair of sculptures that will grace two Corby estate lakes are undergoing specialist creative construction ready for their installation in March.

Members of the Oakley Vale Community Association ‘Arts Action Team’ have been assisted by specialist engineers Cooney Marine in Kettering to produce one sculpture and to make another lake-ready.

The sculptures, 'Corby Heritage' and 'Heron Tree', will form an extension to Corby's sculpture park near the lakes either side of Chatsworth Road.

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Paul Balmer and Kieran McDonnell

Paul Balmer, chairman of Oakley Vale Community Association, who has been working on the sculpture park project, said: "It's taken nearly a year. We've had to deal with fish and we've gone to huge lengths to make sure there are no great crested newts.

"We already have three sculptures by the lake and the two new ones Corby Heritage and Heron Tree will stand in the lake."

Corby Heritage, incorporating wood from Rockingham Forest, steel from Stewarts and Lloyds and Brick from The Corby Brick Company, was gifted by Corby sculptor Ray Andrew, who died last year.

Heron Tree, stainless-steel six-stemmed branched design, incorporates the iconic Steelman’s ladle, as well as one of the ‘Twa Corbies’, or ravens, from the town’s heraldry and a nod to the town's road system in the tubular design.

A model of the Heron Tree that will be installed in a lake on Oakley Vale in Corby

The artists hope that the local herons will perch on the sculpture whilst taking a break from fishing.

It was when cameraman Mr Balmer was filming at Cooney Marine that company boss James Cooney offered his company's services to produce a sculpture made from stainless-steel tubes, using the firm's special metal bending technology.

Mr Cooney suggested a tree design which was then used as a starting point for Corby Rooftop Arts members to work with Oakley Vale residents.

Richard Harrison, Warren Shaw and Dinah Kazakoff produced a scale model of the 'Heron Tree' which was turned into a computer aided design (CAD) program in India.

Ashley Eades, stainless steel welder fabricator works on the foundations

Finally, Cooney Marine design engineer Carl Gadsden turned the drawings into a reality using the 3D tube bending machine that produces components for luxury yachts.

He said: "It was quite tricky because there are compound angles - the tubes go up and round at the same time. I was ripping my hair out but I do like a project and I like to solve problems.

"I'm looking forward to seeing it."

Staff have been working on the sculpture and engineering the fixings for the foundations.

Ray Andrew's sculpture 'Corby Heritage'

Cooney Marine senior manager, Kieran McDonnell, said: "It's great to be part of Northamptonshire's heritage. This will be our fourth tree sculpture and a first for the county.

"We're happy to be helping out a community project that will be there forever."

Before the official unveiling on March 21, the two sculptures will be transported to the lakes where foundations will have been laid by experts from Cooney Marine, helped by members of the Corby air cadets.

RAF divers will then connect the foundations to the sculptures to secure them in the bottom of the lake.

Mr Balmer added: "All the signage has been designed and built by Tresham College apprentices made with Tata steel and it is all being filmed by Corby apprentices and a drone pilot will do a fly-by.

"We have invited the mayor to unveil the sculpture from a boat and we would like everyone to come along."

Ray Andrew