Butterfly artwork for Chichester Canal Basin

Artist Steve Tomlinson's impression for Chichester Canal Basin
Artist Steve Tomlinson's impression for Chichester Canal Basin

BESPOKE artwork in the form of elegant butterflies is set to transform Chichester Canal Basin this autumn.

Using regeneration as his central theme, artist Steve Tomlinson has designed four butterfly sculptures which, standing two metres tall, have wings bursting with recognisable features from 
the city.

“It is an extremely clever design,” said district councillor Pam Dignum. “The aim is to enhance the area.”

The artwork has been funded by £25,000 of section 106 money, with additional £20,000 from West Sussex County Council to create a trail and a bench – also designed by Steve Tomlinson.

The Canal Basin Liaison Group has been set up to oversee the project, with members including Linda Wilkinson, chairman of the Canal Trust, district councillor Pam Dignum, a representative from the residents’ association, and the head of art at Chichester High School for Girls.

“We chose the artist from about 50 applicants because we felt he had the flexibilty and willingness to work 
with schoolchildren,” said 
Cllr Dignum.

“The butterfly nearest the road will incorporate the history of the city, with aspects of the cathedral and the market cross.”

“The second and third butterflies will be together with a curved bench in the middle – they will represent the leisure and working 
aspect of the canal. The fourth one, will draw upon the canal basin wildlife.

“The idea is that the wings will be vandal-proof.”

Steve Tomlinson, who lives in North Yorkshire, said he enjoyed designing the piece as an outsider.

“I worked with students from the high school and they gave me fantastic ideas.

“It was my first time working in Chichester so it was really nice to learn about the city. I saw butterflies as a symbol of regeneration – and used the idea of the veins inside as a starting point for the design.

“I did that because I knew when I was working with the school group, they would have a direct impact with what would go inside the wings.

“I can say hand on heart everyone has had an impact on me and that is the great thing about workshops – whether it was from a sketch or something one of them mentioned.

“The butterflies are made for the citizens of Chichester – it’s not just tourists and visitors who can enjoy them.”

The artwork is expected to be finished and unveiled in the autumn.