Hampshire artist set to unlock the stories of Hockley Viaduct

Press Release: 12/06/2013

Hockley Viaduct

Following the refurbishment of the Hockley Viaduct as part of the completion of National Cycle Network Route 23, a Hampshire sculptor has been invited to help share the stories of this much-loved local structure.

Nicola Henshaw, who lives and works in the New Forest, was chosen following a competitive selection process to produce a comprehensive interpretation scheme. Working in wood, she will create a series of distinctive pictorial panels, benches and way-markers along the route, based on the contributions and imagination of local residents. These will add colour and interest for those using the route, and draw attention to the history, landscape and biodiversity of the area.

The interpretation scheme is funded jointly by Hampshire County Council, the Friends of Hockley Viaduct and the Environment Agency, with Winchester City Council leading on the commissioning process.

On Friday 14 June, a party of invited guests from organisations ranging from the Friends of Hockley Viaduct to Compton All Saints Primary School will meet at the Viaduct for the first part of the project. They will be asked to collect items from around the Viaduct which can be made into themed ‘story bags’. Items may be found on the ground, newspaper cuttings, photos, pictures or other curios.

The story bags will then go on a journey to one of the City Council’s sheltered housing schemes, where residents will be asked to help dream up stories based on the objects inside. The stories will be taken to All Saints Primary School in Highcliffe and be transformed by the children into shadow puppet performances, with Nicola’s help. Finally, the shadow puppets will form the templates for carvings that will appear on the way-markers, panels and benches along the route.

“It’s a really delightful project,” said Cllr Victoria Weston, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Built Environment.

Nicola’s carvings will be the icing on the cake for what has already proved a hugely successful local project. I am particularly pleased to see so many different groups involved in helping to create the final designs.

The Hockley Viaduct was reopened in February, when Olympic gold medallist Dani King cycled across it with local schoolchildren. It will be a key feature in the City Council’s Cycle Fair which takes place on Sunday 23 June. The interpretation scheme will be completed this winter, offering yet another reason to take the family, the dog or the bike for a walk along this tranquil route.