ArtReach and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) have commissioned founder of Circling the Square, Tim Ward to create a public art installation at Stockport Interchange.

ArtReach secured additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the project. Two other TfGM commissions will be developed by different artists in Manchester’s transport system, at Tameside Interchange and Wigan Bus Station, both project managed by ArtReach.

Tim Ward has been working closely with the local community in Stockport, a process of direct engagement that will inform his design of the final artwork for this iconic public space.  ArtReach caught up with Tim to find out more about his own background, and the thoughts and processes behind his art.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I have been an artist and designer for over thirty years, specialising in the design & build of public art projects. In my work I like to explore and combine different materials and effects, ranging from the use of steel, glass and stone to lighting programmes, colour and photographic imagery. I believe art within public spaces can positively encourage and stimulate our interaction with the world around us and for the places where we live, visit and work. I was elected as a member of Art Workers Guild in 1992.

What are your personal links to Manchester?

I was born in Denton, Manchester and have firm family roots within the Greater Manchester area. I attended Tameside College of Technology for my Arts Foundation before moving down to London to undertake a Fine Arts BA at Goldsmiths College graduating in 1980. I then returned to Manchester where I worked in community and public art projects all over the North West for next five years. It is from this period that I developed an enthusiasm and commitment for working collaboratively with local people in delivering projects. I believe this approach creates artwork of real value that will be strongly supported by local communities who share a sense of ownership and pride in the artwork.

When did you start Circling the Square and why?

After working in the North West, I moved to London to join Free Form Arts Trust, an environmental arts company. I stayed with them for sixteen years, firstly as an artist and latterly as their Projects Director. In 2002, I formed my own company entitled ‘Circling the Square Ltd’ which aims to bring together all my experience of engaging communities with delivering public art and environmental schemes. An example of some of my key projects are ‘Blue Skies’ Sculpture in Bournemouth, created in memory of the Red Arrows pilot who tragically died in a crash during the town’s air show, ‘Fire and Water’ lighting sculpture for a new-build Leisure Centre in Wolverhampton and the ‘Ashlon’ Sculpture near Ashford International Station.

How will you make the artwork at Stockport Interchange resonate with the wider public?

I will aim to make the public art innovative whilst sympathetic to its location and requirements of the users & local communities. My initial ideas for the artwork is for a long ‘Wave’ Screen for the Central Barrier at the Stockport Interchange. The origami structured screen simulates the movement of water, echoing the topography of Stockport where three rivers, Tame, Goyt and Mersey, converge and act as a metaphor for the movement and coming together of people – past, present and future. Flowing from right to left the wave screen can incorporate imagery relating to surrounding countryside, traverse through the suburbs and into the urban heart of Stockport. Notable local people from the past and present can be celebrated, along with city landmarks, heritage sites, cultural diversity, folklore and shared histories. The wave screen can be a significant public art feature; aesthetically, functional and strongly relevant to people and visitors of Stockport.

What does this commission mean for you?

For me, this commission feels like I am returning home and this make the project more special to me. I am looking forward to working with the people of Stockport and project partners to make this a unique and successful piece of public art for the Stockport Interchange.


Read the TfGM news item here.