Wheatley Centre Shopping Park has unveiled a new public artwork, by local artist Chris Campbell, reflecting the heritage of the local area and links to the International Harvester factory which was situated across from the shopping park until 2007.
The artwork was commissioned as part of the improvement programme at the shopping park with the aim of providing a sense of place for the local community. Improvement works at the park have also included the widening of public footpaths, installation of LED lighting, new street furniture, new public toilets and a new children’s play area which will be opening soon.
The sculpture’s design was based on feedback from several consultation events held with the local community with responses from many ex-workers, their families and other local residents indicating the International Harvester tractor factory was a focal point for the whole community. Features of the design include a vintage tractor similar to those first made at the factory, a 1970s model which was the last to be produced there, as well as workers going about their everyday business.
Chris Campbell and his colleagues from Mattersey near Doncaster managed the project from design to installation as well as working with pupils from nearby Kingfisher Primary School to create hand grips for the climbing wall in the centre’s children’s play area.
Denis Copeland, Regional Manager of Wheatley Centre Shopping Park, said, “The sculpture is not only a fantastic feature which complements the refurbishment work undertaken on site but is a tribute to the area’s heritage and reflects the fact that many of our shoppers worked at the factory. This project also gave us a great opportunity to work with Kingfisher Primary School to enhance the children’s play area, with Chris and his team on hand to help pupils develop their creative skills.”
Chris Campbell, the local artist who created the sculpture commented, “Whilst working on the design and fabrication of the sculpture it was important to use the methods and materials that would have been employed at International Harvester. The manufacturing techniques employed 60 years ago are still valid today, enabling past workers and onlookers to identify with the processes of casting, profile cutting components, drilling and bolting.”