Henshaws works with local community groups to create Ark sculpture

Colourful sculpture of an ark created by community groups

We’re working closely with local community groups to shape our garden and the artwork within it. One example of this is our bright and colourful Ark sculpture which was created by the Can Do Project. This project is run by national charity Leonard Cheshire Disability and aims to offer exciting opportunities for disabled people aged 10-35 years to volunteer in their community.

Anna Dawson-Jones, Can Do Programme Coordinator explains the inspiration behind the piece and how different local groups worked together to create it:

“It’s important to note that Ark is not Noah’s Ark. We wanted to be very clear that this doesn’t come from a specific religious inspiration. Ark instead represents the bringing together of different groups hence the boat’s name: Unity.

Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre sits on the site of the old Knaresborough zoo and this was the original inspiration for the art piece. In addition we particularly loved the Asian Fields work by Anthony Gormley which provided the second part of our inspiration. Put the two together and Ark is the result.

Volunteer and Art Maker exploring the different animals on Ark in the Arts & Crafts Centre garden

The Ark took 12 months to complete and we worked with more than 10 disabled groups from across North Yorkshire including schools, day services, and out of school groups. All the names of the groups involved in the project have their names on the boat.

In addition, David Oxley from Harrogate College fired all the sculptures for free at the college for us. Without him we would have no Ark! We worked with three artists from Henshaws throughout the project – Catt, Zoe and Shaeron – who were also the artists we had worked with on the Tour de France sculptures which you can also find in the garden. Can Do led and financed the project whilst Henshaws provided the long term home for the piece.”

Close up image of Ark sculpture showing the colourful boat with ceramic animal scupltures created by local community groups

Anna’s colleague Rachael Lunn recently started in post for Can Do in Yorkshire. She said: “I think that Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre is a huge asset to the local community and brings together people from all backgrounds, ages and abilities. The events that run there are a fantastic celebration of local talent and provide families with a safe space to enjoy.”

Looking through the gates into our gardens with the ark sculpture in the background

Can Do hope to maintain a strong link with Henshaws and we are already starting to plan future projects which could help to transform the garden space even further.

You can find Ark in our gardens at the back of the Arts & Crafts Centre. Follow our beautiful new magenta and purple signs or please ask a member of staff for directions.

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