Against the background thought of embedding art to help the landscape find its voice, we developed a conceptual framework.
Linking each location is a walking trail that takes us through the landscape. The process of leading us from one chapter to the next is cumulative, in the sense that the trail is taking us not just from field to field, but on a journey through a story. Hence, completing the trail brings with it a sense of having arrived at an understanding - of the landscape, of a slice of history, of themes we see being played out in the world around us.
This landscape actually has two stories to tell. There is the story of one day in 1485, and there is the story of the 500 year shadow it has cast through the historical account. By moving from one to the other we are able to present a story-within-a-story that begins half a millennium ago and runs right up to today - and on into the future.
We have broken this combined story down into 5 chapters, each of which relates to a significant location in the landscape. The 5 chapters are told by 5 artworks in these locations. Each artwork must feel embedded in its setting well enough to tell its part of the story. But these are artworks, not illustrations in a history book. They must pull people into the story by reaching beyond historical details to touch universal themes we can all relate to.
A dais of black granite floats slightly above the ground. Looking down onto the granite is a figure in white Portland Stone, a kneeling figure cloaked in a great robe that flows down and out to cover almost the whole dais. The robe shows him to be king, both because it is fringed with a passage from Richard’s prayer and because it is decorated with images of the soldiers in his care, asleep in their encampment. Beneath the robe, however, the gazing figure seems a man like any other, a man looking into his soul.
The legend of Richard’s prayer plus the general tenor of this piece both call for a location near St James’s Church, and we are pleased that the PCC have agreed a site within the churchyard itself.
This will mean passing through two sets of gates separated by a tree-lined path before reaching a place of quiet seclusion, and will have the effect of giving the piece a necessary quality of discovered intimacy.
Stone is the material best suited to this context in terms of feel as well as longevity, so the dais will be carved from black granite and the robed figure from Portland Stone (safely meeting the minimum 50-year-life stipulation). The figure will look to be carved from a single block, though the scale of the artwork as a whole will require assembling from several pieces of stone.
The kneeling figure will face the church, creating a relationship between the two reinforced by Latin text from Richard’s Book of Hours carved around the edge of the robe. The imagery of sleeping soldiers will be low-relief carved into the robe, this becoming more apparent as it reaches the ground and spreads out to cover the dais. There is an option for the figure to be holding a crown,though the intention is for the robe itself to express kingship.
The base will be set high enough off the ground to serve as an informal seat. The figure will be slightly larger than life-size and the extra height will give it a significant presence from close up. From further away its form and materials will ensure it does not dominate its setting.
This is an artwork about meditation. Click here to see more photographs of the designs for this sculpture.
When force meets force, when the air crackles with electricity, then everything can be turned upside down in an instant. And with the heat of the moment comes altered perspective. Time stands still, men become giants, actions take on the quality of myth. Yet from the outside, there may be little to see.
As soon as the battle commenced on August 22nd 1485, the established order of things counted for nothing. Rival gangs were left to slug it out and there was no knowing what the day would bring. To those in the thick of it, a matter of life and death. More of a curiosity, though, to those watching from afar.
The battle has been won, but while swords are still wet with blood an official stamp must be put on the outcome and a new rule legitimised. That means a crown and it means paying people off. We are told a chair was pulled out from a nearby farmhouse and Henry wasted no time having himself crowned on the hill overlooking the battlefield, before dividing the spoils with his supporters. Against the backdrop of the local hilltop church, thanks were given to God for a new king and the re-establishment of order. The traditional account calls this moment on Crown Hill not just the start of a new reign but a turning point in English history.
This is an artwork about creating order out of chaos
After the battle has been fought, the blood has been shed, the crown has been won - only then does the real work begin. Because wounds are still open and counting the bodies only rubs salt into the wounds. Mending grievances is a longer and harder job than a morning’s fight in a field. It is something for generations of men and women to work at. On the 22nd of August 1485 the dead were buried where they fell, but in the years that followed a long, gradual process of healing began. Remains of the dead from both sides were brought together in the churchyard of St James the Greater, Dadlington, and Henry VIII granted a licence for a chantry priest to pray for their souls.
This is an artwork about reflection and reconciliation.
The events of one day in 1485 are long gone. No-one knows what really happened. But all around these fields there are clues. Cannonballs, badges, fragments of weaponry lying undisturbed for centuries. All just waiting to be dug up.
But clues do not speak for themselves. They have to be pieced together to form a story, like a jigsaw puzzle. Except there are only ever a few pieces, so there is always more than one story they could be telling.
This is an artwork about archaeology.
Begin the trail in the historic town of Market Bosworth, a place very much associated with the Battle of Bosworth and the debate that still exists around it today. On Sunday 22nd March 2015, the funeral cortege of Richard III passed through Market Bosworth. This event is now commemorated with a floor plaque located in the town square.
Today you will find parking, accommodation, restaurants and shops making this small market town an excellent place to start the trail. Complete the full route, experiencing all 5 chapters and sculptures and finish back at Market Bosworth.
As this is an art trail that tells a story, the trail itself must be designed as carefully as any one of the 5 artworks. In essence, the trail is the mother artwork that makes sense of the other 5.
Important things to consider are the vistas the trail affords between artworks, as well as the approach to and leave-taking from each artwork. How the land rises and falls, how the view opens out and closes in, whether an artwork reveals itself as a corner is turned or is visible far in the distance - all this must be orchestrated to help tell each chapter of the story. Ideally, integration of landscape, trail and artworks would by itself lead people through the story. In practice, this will need support in the form of signposting and by interpretation panels at each location. But the ideal remains: it is the job of the trail above all the other artworks to articulate the landscape.
The route, which uses existing rights of way, begins and ends at Market Bosworth, the largest town in the area and revolves around an axis centred on the existing Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre on Ambion Hill. These two locations host the final two artworks, which bring the story up to our own time. The events of August the 22nd 1485 itself are told by artworks along the heart of the trail, which weaves its way through Sutton Cheney, the battlefield, Stoke Golding and Dadlington - all locations overlooked by the Heritage Centre.
Our trail aims to achieve two things: to lead people through the 5 artworks and to offer an enjoyable day out in the countryside. Both of these things need to be available to people of all ages and abilities, whether physical or mental, so the trail must have accessibility and flexibility built into it.
At present, the route covers 12 miles of undulating countryside with a total ascent of 225 metres. Some of this is on tarmac, but most is on country paths, parts of which will need improving to deal with waterlogged ground. Allowing for breaks, an experienced walker in good health could hope to complete the circuit in a day. In addition, there may be the option of a longer route taking in the location, according to the latest archaeology, where Richard is presumed to have died.