For some years now, Wokingham Borough Council have been planning the regeneration of the town centre and a dedicated group of Church members have done their very best to ensure that the building and needs of its users were not ignored. As the plans progressed, we realised that the buildings of the new Peach Place would leave the town with an unattractive view of the Church and Bradbury Centre and not the aspect we ever planned for.
I began to think that this may be an opportunity to make the Church visible in our community and to make the corner a more interesting and attractive feature within the new development by having a sculpture of some sort.
I started to think about the possibility of a sculpture and what would be an appropriate subject. At the time, we were preparing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Methodist church in Wokingham, I didn't intend to design the sculpture myself, but I needed an idea to play with and I began to make rough sketches inspired by the Christian symbol of fish.
I became aware that the Town Council were planning a mosaic history trail around the town and local businesses and organisations were keen to sponsor circular mosaics designed and made by a mosaic artist that would be inserted into the walkways and pavements during the development work. After discussing ideas with a few church members, I began attending meetings of the mosaic committee to research the possibility of having a fish mosaic for the Church and becoming part of the trail. I took along the idea of a fish inspired wall sculpture and the mosaic committee were very enthusiastic about it.
The mosaic sculpture is planned to be the start of a mosaic trail throughout the town; the other planned Mosaics will be set into the pavement and the designs will be based on historical events in Wokingham. The council is planning that anyone following the trail will be able to access an App on mobile phones that will give more information about each individual mosaic.
The idea was then given to the Artist Rosalind Waites; she too was very enthusiastic about the project. We now have a small group of Church members meeting and working with Rosalind to achieve a stunning artwork for our building.
We asked Rosalind to design a sculpture with twelve mosaic fish and twenty-eight metal fish, representing twelve disciples and their followers, the sum of 40 fish being a biblical number.
Rosalind's latest design incorporates fish from the Sea of Galilee, the St. Peter fish and a Barbel. The larger fish are planned to be in brightly coloured glass mosaic and the metal fish will be textured galvanised metal. Both will reflect and react with the light. We are having samples of both types of fish made to help us visualise the final concept.
The fish sculpture will be a visual celebration of our 200th anniversary in Wokingham and will be paid for by fundraising and donations. Church groups may want to be represented by collecting together and donating a fish, and individual Church members can sponsor a fish for the sculpture.
The sculpture is planned to be in place by October 2018 for the official opening of the Plaza.
Jane Bonney and the Mosaic Team