The new sculpture, titled “The Next Step”, has been created by leading figurative sculptor Brian Alabaster, and it is based on Alperton pupils Pratham Rathod, Nisha Nangi and Chantall Piechowska.
St George, the developer currently transforming Grand Union into a thriving new neighbourhood in partnership with Brent Council, commissioned Brian to create a public artwork inspired by the local area.
Brian and St George contacted nearby Alperton Community School, to see if some of the pupils might like to be involved in the project.
Juliet Bowerman, the school's art teacher who took on the project, explains:
“When St George approached us about the project, I thought it was something really exciting for the school to be a part of. Brian needed three students for the sculpture, so there was an audition process that started with more than 50 pupils, before Pratham, Nisha and Chantal were selected as the models. The process from start to finish has been a privilege to be a part of - it’s been so worthwhile and educational for the pupils, as well as teachers like me.”
Brian wanted the sculpture to symbolise the learning, progression and achievement of local children. The result is the three pupils climbing a stack of books. To create the artwork, he held clay sculpting workshops at the school, leading to the introduction of 3-D art to the school’s curriculum. After creating wax molds of the pupils, liquid bronze was poured at 1,100 degrees to create the final work.
Brian says: “This is a sculpture about a community, for a community. The pupils were amazing and came to lots of modelling sessions outside of school hours.”
St George unveiled the sculpture in October at a major community event, alongside the unveiling of PAVO - a historical narrowboat which was built in 1935 for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company. PAVO carried cargo from London to Birmingham, amongst other destinations. St George has permanently located PAVO in the canalside piazza at Grand Union, where it will be used as part of a community programme.
Discussing the impact of The Next Step, Stephen Kirwan, Regional Managing Director at St George West London, comments:
“We take public art very seriously and we know that it can have a positive impact on a community. We loved Brian’s design and his thought process behind it, with the pupils climbing books to reach their full potential, which is a lovely analogy for the spirit of the wider area. We want the places that we develop to really feel like a home, with a sense of community, and this is one of the ways we’re helping to build that at Grand Union.”
Since it went on public display, friends and family members have been commenting on it.
“My mum almost cried when she knew I was going to be in the sculpture. I feel proud seeing it now and I’d really like to be an artist one day. I’m thinking of studying art in my GCSEs and this experience has definitely inspired me.” says Pratham.
Chantal adds: “When so many of us auditioned, I didn’t think I’d get picked, but then I was so happy when I was, though I think my mum was even happier! She kept talking about it and telling the whole family.”
Covering 22 acres, Grand Union provides 3,350 new homes, 35% of which are affordable homes. The development also includes London’s first multi-level industrial building, SEGRO V Park Grand Union, which will provide high quality industrial floor space and attract a range of occupiers – from start-up to more established businesses.
The first residents moved into their homes facing the Grand Union canal last year. The major new development also provides 14 acres of open space, including landscaped gardens, riverside meadows and walkways.
For more information visit grandunion.uk