Paved with love

_DSF9336©Geoff Wilkinson

Tim Ward designed the decorative pavement and benches on the bridge over the A406 in South Woodford. Here, the Buckhurst Hill-based artist offers some insight into the bridgescape’s recent restoration and his passion for community installations. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

Residents may have noticed that repairs have recently taken place to renovate the decorative pavement and upgrade the benches on the bridge over the A406 in South Woodford. The work was completed in mid-June, with the area now back to its original state, if not better than when it was installed in 2012.

The South Woodford bridgescape – which was funded by an agreement with developers when planning permission was given for the Queen Mary site – consists of several parts. There are three stainless-steel tree sculptures that spiral up from the flyover bridge (created by artist Lucien Simon) and four heritage benches, with accompanying art paving, created by myself. The theme was to connect with Epping Forest and celebrate notable people of the area. Three of the benches are dedicated to Woodford’s famed association with historical giants Winston Churchill, William Morris and Sylvia Pankhurst, who, despite political differences, each shared a passion for art and craft and were artists of their time. The fourth bench shows images of the local area, taken by Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society members.

I also worked with heritage groups and local people to source imagery for the accompanying circular bench celebrating Woodford’s history, located outside South Woodford Library and Gym.

The bridgescape’s central wave path in the decorative pavement – representing the River Roding – had deteriorated somewhat, with sections of the slate tiles delaminating due to ingress of water and frost (several vans were also parked on the site last year during work on the traffic lights, which exacerbated the problems).

The wave path has now been fully relaid using flexible waterproof cement adhesives and grouts, which allows for any movement in the bridge structure. I am grateful to members of the South Woodford Gardeners, who rescued a number of loose tiles that were able to be cleaned and reused alongside the cutting of new ones. The surrounding paving slabs have been pointed to prevent water penetration and the benches have also been repaired and cleaned.

The work was carried out by landscaper Simon Martin and tiler Dino Kyriacou on behalf of my public arts and landscape design practice Circling the Square, following a commission by Redbridge Council to carry out this much-needed renovation work. Again, my thanks to the local residents who brought their concerns over the bridgescape’s state to the council’s attention.

Since graduating from Goldsmiths College in 1980, I have worked extensively in creating public art and environmental projects, working with steel, glass, stone, photographic plates and lighting. Some of my other projects include Interconnecting Arches in Horsham (which represents the heritage of rural trades), the Jon Egging memorial in Bournemouth (to commemorate the Red Arrow pilot who died during an air display) and Rowhedge Wharf Watchtower in Colchester.

I am proud to be an elected member of The Art Workers’ Guild since 1992 and I am committed to working collaboratively in delivering projects, aiming to create installations of real value which are supported by local communities and which imbue a shared sense of ownership and pride. I hope the South Woodford bridgescape will continue to fulfil this aim for many years to come.

For more information on Tim’s work, visit circlingthesquare.com

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