Japanese style on show in Milton Keynes
PUBLISHED: 11:48 13 September 2016
You never know what you might find in the great outdoors at Milton Keynes, but you can be pretty sure to come across some fascinating art along the way.
The latest addition is The Gyosei Art Trail – eight works of art placed alongside the Grand Union Canal.
There’s a fascinating story behind the trail, and we thank reader Anne Green (@neugrufti) for bringing it to our attention – and providing the photographs. She says: “Apart from the art, this trail provides a great walk along the canal and there is always something interesting to discover along the way. The canal boats chug by and you feel you are miles away in the countryside, not in the centre of Milton Keynes.”
Long term Milton Keynes residents will recall the Gyosei International School in Willen Park. It was a boarding school for the children of Japanese people working in Europe. Something of a victim of Japan’s economic crisis, it closed in 2002 and was eventually replaced by retirement homes.
But Milton Keynes has never forgotten its links with the Far East and the new trail pays homage to Japanese art. For instance, the former school’s foundation is now topped by a stainless steel plaque by Justin Tunley depicting the Grand Union Canal.
A piece consisting of seven enamel panels of local birds has also been made in a Japanese style by Laura Boswell, who previously produced street length enamel murals for Aylesbury. There are two benches on the trail – both with a twist. A three post bench by woodcarver Jeremy Turner, who also teaches at Queens Park Art Centre, Aylesbury, features fish and water birds found at the canal. The other, in oak by Rob Griffiths, has a giant frog sitting at one end. Melanie Watts created drawings based on photographs she took along the canal at Great Linford for a glass mosaic of a barn owl swooping down, while Andrew Kay came up with a powerful steel sculpture of a Shire Horse, the breed which one pulled barges from the canal’s towpaths.
Ptolemy Elrington uses recovered materials such as old shopping trolleys and scrap car wheel trims for his work and for Milton Keynes has produced a beautiful dragonfly mounted on a pole. Arachne Weaves by Linda Johns sees metal rods, fine wires, and natural materials transformed into amazing ‘spider webs’ stretching between tree branches.
Fancy a walk with a fine selection of art along the way? You can download a map of the trail at great-linford.gov.uk.