Scultpure unveiled at Cambridgeshire waste management park

A SCULPTURE of a giant recycled hand cradling the Earth is the latest edition to Donarbon’s waste management park at Waterbeach.

The new piece of public art was unveiled by Councillor Linda Oliver, chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council, on Tuesday.

The public art was financed by Donarbon and is part of planning permission given for the state of the art Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plant built at the company’s Waterbeach site.

Planning permission for the new building, part of a major waste management and recycling contract between Donarbon and the County Council was granted in 2007 and required the production of a piece of public art with involvement from the local community.

To meet this requirement a competition was run by Donarbon, Cambridgeshire County Council, the SmartLIFE Centre for Sustainable Construction and Star Radio in Autumn 2007, giving local secondary school pupils the chance to design a sculpture with a strong environmental theme.

The prize was �1,000 donated by Donarbon towards the winning school’s art and design facilities, a visit by pupils to the SmartLife Centre and Star Radio’s studios and the production of the winning design into a full scale piece of public art.

Abbey Stevenson, a BTech Art and Design student from Comberton Village College won the competition, with the concept of her design being a large hand cradling a small and fragile Earth, showing the massive impact people have on our planet, hopefully for good, but with the capacity to destroy through pollution and wastefulness.

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This design has now been converted into a magnificent 4.5 metre high sculpture by local charity Rowan, based in Humberstone Road, Cambridge.

The charity has a team of studio artists who work with around 50 adults with learning disabilities, to produce high quality, unique pieces of art using a range of different media.

The sculpture, which greets visitors and students to the education centre in the MBT plant, is supported by an internal steel frame.

Artists from Rowan built up the final shape of the hand using recycled timber and covered this with nearly 3,000 aluminium drinks cans collected from Cambridgeshire resident’s kerbside recycling collections, while the Earth is made from glass bottles gathered from similar recycling collections.

Des Trollip Director of Operations at Rowan said: “This was a really adventurous project for us. We have never done anything on this scale before and we have found the work challenging, but our artists have really enjoyed doing the project and our students have been keen to join in.

“We had to wait for the MBT building work to be completed in November last year before we could start converting our plans into reality, and starting in the winter wasn’t too much fun, but we are really pleased with the finished sculpture, and look forward to other possible commissions”.

Abbey Stevenson, now a student studying fashion and textiles at Cambridge Regional College said: “The opportunity to enter the SmartLIFE competition was something I couldn’t turn down and I’m so glad that I took part because now I can see what one of my ideas and design looks like in the real word.

“It truly looks fantastic and I would like to thank the artists at Rowan for doing an amazing job of turning my small model into something that can be viewed by others my age and will inspire them to make a difference, whether that be in a competition or helping to protect the planet.

“Overall this opportunity has given me the confidence to push my ideas forward to hopefully make my mark on the art world and the planet”.

Cllr. Tony Orgee, lead member for environment and the economy at for Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “This is a really impressive piece of public art that is not only aesthetically pleasing but gives a message to the public who visit the plant and education centre at Waterbeach, that we are the custodians of our plant for future generations, and shows everyone what can be done with recycled materials.

“We hope that this sculpture will help reinforce the message of encouraging everyone to use their local recycling facilities as much as possible as a very practical way of helping to preserve our planet”.

Mark Davenport, Donarbon’s Managing Director said: “This is the first time the company has been involved with anything like this, and we are extremely delighted with the finished sculpture, although at first there was a little scepticism here as to how the artists were going to convert their design into a piece of public art, but the artists have done a sterling job.

“Even though it wasn’t complete, the hand covered in drinks cans, coming out of the ground near our main entrance, attracted a lot of attention at our recent Open Day from both children and their parents, so we think it will be a hit with future visitors”.