Bedford Riverside Regeneration Limited (BRRL) and Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) are proud to unveil The Frog, the latest piece of site-specific public art in Bedford town centre at the newly developed Riverside Square – a tree-lined public space over-looking the River Great Ouse.
BCA was approached by BRRL to commission a piece of art to culturally enhance the space. Following a selection process, Bath-based artist William Rounce was selected by BCA, the developers and Mayor Dave Hodgson to develop a piece of work to be situated on the west side of the square.
William has taken his inspiration for the piece ‘The Frog’, from Bedford’s brick-making history. Following a visit to the Higgins Bedford, William learned about the Stewartby brickworks and became fascinated with the ‘frog’ or indentation of the brick that is displayed at the museum. “The mould of the brick is convex, yet the finished brick is concave,” said William. “The panels of the piece depict the frog of the brick and they create a visual illusion. Most of the ‘bricks’ on the panels are concave, but they are punctuated with convex. Different people will see a different perspective.”
“The best public art responds to its specific location,” said William. “Entitled The Frog, the piece is playful, conceptual, references the local area and is also accessible to the public. The visual illusion may not be immediately apparent, so it will be a talking point.”
The three screens reference the brickworks of Stewartby and also an in-filled window on the BPHA building that overlooks the Square. “As you come over the new bridge you can see the bricked up window on the old building,” said William. “I have echoed that image on one of the panels. The Frog is quite futuristic and the colours are bold – not the obvious red of traditional bricks but inspired by the colours of the bricks in the vicinity – so I wanted to reference the architecture of the past as well as the future.”
The new development at Riverside Bedford is a gateway to the River Great Ouse and incorporates public space along the embankment and in the new square. “The importance of public space cannot be overstated in the planning of developments,” said Colin McQueston of BRRL. “They can be lively, creative spaces that bring people together in a community. Good public space attracts and inspires citizens and improves local pride and a sense of well-being.”
William’s artwork will be sited among seating and newly planted trees in an area that was previously a car park and public toilets.
William will be in Bedford on Saturday 2nd September as part of the Riverside Bedford launch events to talk about the piece. Visitors can take a ‘Frog’ inspired art trail that William has designed.
Riverside Square is a versatile space that can be used for performance, festivals, screenings and simply as a place to meet friends.