Sculpture trail

Art in your park


Explore our open air galleries

Our sculpture trail includes huge crawling creatures, whispering dishes and sound pods to interact with, and art you can sit on to get a different view of the world.

Explore the Wat Tyler sculpture trail for surprises around every corner. 

1. Progression

Stainless steel, 2000 by Michael Condron

This sculpture showing three figures helping each other onto, and up from a plinth was originally commissioned from Essex-based sculptor Michael Condron for Basildon Town Square.

At the time, an empty plinth had been built, and artists were asked to submit proposals for an artwork that would use it effectively.

Condron’s idea of depicting the plinth as a ‘stepping stone’ caught the imagination of local residents, who voted for their favourite design from three shortlisted artists.

To start off, Michael ran art workshops at two local schools, exploring portraiture and community.

At The Billericay School students made life size cutouts of themselves, and decorated them with personal images, followed by sculptures based on their relationship with Basildon. At the James Hornsby High School, students made large abstract and representational sculptures from card and paper.

Progression can be read as three figures helping each other onwards, or as a single figure in three differentstages of growth.

The sculpture was relocated to Wat Tyler in 2005.

2. Childhood Escapes (also 9 & 10)

Steel and aircraft paint, 2006 Simon Mackness

Simon Mackness conceived of Childhood Escapes as a graphic response to an environment.

Based on geographical diagrams and cutaways of the earth’s structure, the piece contrasts the natural environment of the park with the sharp graphic outlines of the sculpture.

The sculptures are sited at three different locations around the park. The positioning of the clusters create places to sit, rest and view the landscape. The bright colours and shapes of the pieces naturally invite children to explore and climb.

Simon Mackness works out of a studio in London. He describes himself as a conceptual pop artist, usually working in the medium of large prints and readymades. Tackling sensitive and taboo subjects in a witty, sharp and engaging way is where Simon feels most at home.

3. WHY?

68 stained wooden figures, 2006 Clive Wakeford

WHY? comprises 34 male and 34 female wooden figures stained in bright colours. They are installed within an amphitheatre created by the blast walls which are all that remain of the explosives factory that once stood here. The graphic simplicity of the figures remind one of performers, or perhaps a recently unearthed archeological discovery.

The simplicity of the piece was inspired through engaging with schoolchildren from Vange County Primary School with whom Clive worked during the commission. The schoolchildren’s pure enthusiasm inspired the bright primary colours and their thirst for knowledge was the inspiration for the question mark that forms the centre of the group. The figures’ height also refers to the children’s contribution and creates a further interpretation of the piece as a playground game. Finally, the artist challenges the viewer to consider the purpose and value of WHY? and of public artworks as a whole.

Clive Wakeford is based in Colchester. His artistic practice includes environmental artworks and public installations and he is also a painter

4. Sound Pods

Steel 2006 Natasha Carsberg

Feel free to touch the Sound Pods to experience the contrasting forms and textures. The sound element of the sculptures was explored and developed by pupils from Vange Primary School & Chalvedon School in Basildon. A spectrum of different sounds can be made by tapping the surfaces of the sculptures and by blowing through the pipes

Natasha Carsberg is committed to exploring the natural environment through her sculpture. She works with local communities to produce artworks in the landscape which combine elements of both sculpture and garden design. She is particularly interested in producing sensory sculptures using smell, texture, colour and sound.

5. After the uprising

7 sweet chestnut trees 2006, Robert Koenig

In 1381 peasants from the Essex marshland villages marched on London to protest against the poll tax. The rebellion was quickly suppressed. Most of the rebels were allowed to go home but the leaders were pursued, captured and executed. The leader of the peasant’s revolt was Wat Tyler.

In order to represent this mass of humanity marching on London Robert Koenig chose to carve 7 symbolic figures from sweet chestnut trees. Wat Tyler stands proudly at the front of this group, other figures are bound and captive behind him. Sited in this clearing and looking as if they have just emerged from the wooded area behind, the eleven foot carvings convey a sense of the drama of the event and its often overlooked importance in the history of the area

6. Sonic Marshmallows

Aluminium 2006, Troika

For Wat Tyler Country Park, Troika wanted to create something playful and physically engaging rather than purely ornamental. Something that would be playful for children – grasping their imagination, educative and intriguing. One source of inspiration were the concrete sound-mirrors found all around the English coast that functioned like early radar to spy on incoming enemy planes. Their scale is majestic but their function remains unclear until it is experienced.

The Sonic Marshmallows create a stunning acoustic experience. They work like reflectors to create a precise beam of sound allowing a person standing in front of one of them to hear another person’s whispers sixty metres away across the pond that stands between them. The reverse side allows users to spy on people in the nearby car park, animals in the woodland and keep the immediate environment under close surveillance.

Founded in 2003 by Conny Freyer, Eva Rucki and Sebastien Noel, Troika focus on the creative use of technology to develop projects both engaging and demanding to the user, where design and information never stray far from each other. Working on both self-initiated and commissioned projects, their development processes are born out of a mutual love for simplicity, playfulness and an essential desire for provocation.

7. White Hart

Aluminium, brass and glass 2002, Robert Worley

Amongst the reeds you’ll see a sculpture showing the head of a large white hart. This is a symbol of support for Richard II, who was King of England at the time of the Peasant’s Revolt and the death of Wat Tyler. The White Hart symbol can still be seen in the many pub signs along the peasants’ marching route into London in Essex and Kent.

It was King Richard II who passed an act making it compulsory for pubs and inns to have a sign in order to identify them to the official Ale Taster… and as such Richard II’s own emblem (the white hart) became a very common pub name.

8. The Living Willow Viking Boat

Willow, wood and bunting 2006, Maggie Campbell

The Living Willow Viking Boat is both a meeting place and a public artwork. The artwork is ‘site-specific’ – Wat Tyler’s proximity to the Thames Estuary and the 12th century Norse invasions of East Anglia inform the work. Its peaceful location, wide views from its elevated position and abundant seating make it the perfect place to meet in.

The boat was built by artist Maggie Campbell and a group of children from Cherry Tree Primary School during a wet, cold and windy winter half term. Together they staked out the willow uprights and then wove in willow wands or ‘withies’, rather like weaving a basket. Finally they attached shields to the boat sides. Willow was chosen as the primary building material for the boat because it often grows close to water, is suitable for use by children and is a durable natural material. Living willow was used because of the added interest that the artwork would offer as it grew and changed.

Maggie Campbell works with a wide range of materials and undertakes a wide variety of projects, workshops and commissions.


9 & 10 Childhood Escapes (see 2)

Maquette for Cockroach

11. Cockroach

Raw steel and spray paint 2006, Luke (Dane) Warburton

In simple terms Cockroach represents small creatures on a large scale. From the outside the sculpture references bugs, beetles and cockroaches but from the inside it creates a place in which the public can find shelter and protection under its shell. This interior space was painted by local young people to give an organic and personal dimension to the inside of the shell.

There are around 4000-7500 different species of cockroach but only a very small fraction of these are considered pests. Though our own species has been here for only 100-200 thousand years, species of cockroaches have lived on the earth for around 400 million years and are expected to outlive out the human population. Past civilisations such as the Ancient Egyptians believed the scarab, or dung beetle, represented regeneration, renewal and resurrection. For Luke Warburton, the cockroach represents the strength of small creatures and the survival of their species. It also relates to relates to our own society and its sub-cultures.

Cockroach is a man-made object, designed and made from man-made materials. It is futuristic and dynamic yet still a representation of a natural creature, situated in a natural environment. Wat Tyler Country Park as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.