tree and roots tree and roots
The Portal, Ellesmere Port The Portal, Ellesmere Port
Whitby Heath School Children Whitby Heath School Children's artwork
Whitby Heath School artwork Whitby Heath School artwork
Whitby Heath School artwork Whitby Heath School artwork
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A commission to create a permanent artwork for a new public services building called The Portal in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire for Cheshire West and Chester Council.

A programme of community engagement with the people of Ellesmere Port revealed their connections and pride in the town's historical connection to nature. Ellesmere Port grew up around the river Mersey at the entrance to the Ellesmere Canal and boasts oak trees older than the town itself. The town aims to be one of the first Net Zero Carbon industrial clusters, linking clean and green growth and low carbon technologies. The importance, significance and history of trees to the town informed the development of a group of works which are found in The Portal.

Groundwork is a glass covered sculptural installation set at three points into the ground floor of The Portal. Inside each opening in the floor a carved, wooden, root-like structure twists, turns and winds its way under a glass panel. Drawing attention to what is beneath our feet, the work reminds us of the strength and stability of a tree's roots spreading underground. The roots contained in each opening are aligned to a specimen tree planted planted adjacent to the main entrance of The Portal. Trees are also referenced in the leaf design punched into the exterior cladding of the building.

The community engagement took several forms, respecting changing restrictions due to the Covid pandemic, and involving several local groups, including Little Sutton Women’s Institute Group, Action Transport Theatre Young Writers Group and Whitby Heath Primary School. The latter created a collection of vibrantly coloured collages depicting different species of tree. These hang in the meeting rooms of The Portal.