Born To Be Wild Installation
Installations & Structures
Text description provided by architect.
The permanent installation entitled ‘Born to be Wild’ is centrally located within Keepmoat’s Cable Wharf development and is designed with the intention that the public and residents can interact with it by climbing, sitting on, and walking through it.
The project has been installed above the buried remains of the Grade II listed bear pit which was once a focal attraction of the Victorian gardens that occupied the site in the 19th century.
To preserve the historic bear pit structure from weathering and erosion, it was advised by English Heritage to re-bury the feature. NEON responded to this unique heritage by using the lines of the archaeological drawings of the historic structure to define the outline of the sculpture when viewed from above.
The form of the artwork was then gently undulated to evoke tree branch structures - something bears often inhabit and move around. The sculpture invites the public to playfully interact with the structure much like bears in the wild.
The freedom to interact with the artwork in this way is intended to act as a provocation that asks us to consider the future relationship between animals and humans.
The artwork was developed in conjunction with a group of Key Stage 2 children from Rosherville Church of England Primary Academy. A series of workshops, which took place online due to Covid restrictions, allowed the students to explore the use of color in the artwork through a coloring exercise and asked for comments on the design form and functionality via a questionnaire.
The students' feedback encouraged the NEON team to make the artwork’s form much more curvaceous to provide a more exciting experience when used for play.
The installation forms part of a wider heritage strategy by landscape practice ARC to preserve the history of this previously derelict part of the River Thames. In addition to this, the strategy encompasses the regeneration and preservation of the industrial cable works of WT Henley, the Rosherville Gardens, the caves in the chalk cliffs, and the riverside location.
The public and residents of Cable Wharf can discover more about the site’s historical significance thanks to the installation of interpretation boards, way-finding markers, street furniture, engraved paving, and paving artwork along the riverfront.
Born to be Wild is 10m x 12m in plan with a maximum height of 2.4m. The artwork was manufactured by Steelline in 10 sections that were bolted together onsite. The piece is constructed from 316 Stainless steel and was painted in marine-grade epoxy paint to ensure durability.
Particular attention was paid to the specification of the foundations that were designed to be shallow so they wouldn’t hard the historic Bearpit structure beneath. The artwork was engineered by Elliot Wood.