Rushlake Green Village Leaf

Road Crew installation causes stir at
Rushlake (Art On The) Green show

An art installation, born out of an unlikely alliance between a Road Construction company and the community where it's been working, has proved an unexpected success with local art enthusiasts. The art installation, constructed from road repair materials and mischievously entitled 'On The Road Again', made a surprise appearance at the 'Art on the Green' show on Rushlake Green, which was organised by local artist Chris Liddiard.

When the news emerged of the month-long road reconstruction planned between the villages of Rushlake Green and Cowbeech there was some local concern about the need for more information about what was planned and how local life would be disrupted.

So the Village Leaf  community website started working with East Sussex County Council and their subcontractors MST Recycling to create up to date online information locally.

MST offered to provide regular maps showing how the work was progressing and how local roads where likely to be effected. And the Village Leaf also liaised with local road crews on day-to-day progress and issues. And from this contact came the idea for an art piece for the local 'Art On The Green' art show, which was part of the Hailsham Arts and Culture Festival art trail.

The installation features a series of cylindrical blocks (below left) that are used in MST's laboratories to test the robustness of samples of the re-cycled road materials as they are mixed with cement and other strengthening ingredients to make the new road structure. MST Director Glenn Warwick offered to provide five specially prepared samples, of the materials from along the route of the road project, for use in the installation. A series of maps was then added, tracing the route of the road works from Rushlake Green to Cowbeech Hill. These map sections were derived from the charts provided by MST's Alac Salter for the community website, so that local people could be kept informed throughout the project.

The team also came up with the idea of creating a tyre print on the plywood base for the artwork. MST's Glenn Warwick is seen here (below left) supervising the tyre printing by one of the contractor's specialist roadway recycling machines. No-one was sure whether the print would work, so a test board was lined up in front of a machine as it finished a recycling run. Everyone was delighted with the result, and the main piece was then printed. But the test print was itself so impressive that it was decided to make this into an artwork in its own right. Driver Danny Brown (below right) can be seen proudly signing his solo work titled 'Bomag MPH 121' after the machine he used to craft the image.

But it didn't end there, when it emerged that head gatekeeper Derreck Hill is also a prodigious painter. Derreck is one of those with the rather thankless task of telling local people whether the road is clear for access. The organisers were delighted to include two of Derreck's wolf paintings in the exhibition. These also attracted a lot of enthusiastic responses from the many people attending this very popular annual art show.

Altogether the collaboration between the subcontractors and the local community generally worked out surprisingly well - particularly considering the level of disruption innevitably caused. The vast majority of people seemed to recognise that little bit of pain now was worth the longer term benefits of a pothole free stretch of road and a few less damaged tyres, wheels and vehicles as a result. Perhaps it took some informal working together on a website, and joint venture into the world of conceptual art, to help everyone remember that contractors are not monsters but in fact just well-meaning ordinary people like us, trying their best to do a good job in sometimes difficult circumstances.

Rushlake Green Village Leaf would like to thank Glenn, Alec, Shane, Derreck, Rick, Jo, Danny and everyone from MST for their work, both artistic and constructional.