The Dancing Flowers of Doe Lea by Tonkin Liu has won a RIBA East Midlands Award 2019 and RIBA East Midlands Small Project Award 2019!


Image credit: (c) William Lane

In recent years, Doe Lea – a proud, former, mining community – had lost its identity and was struggling to evolve from its historic mining heritage. The village recognised that new villagers and those with strong mining roots needed to come together to find common ground and a new purpose.

Beam, on behalf of Bolsover District Council, promoted an arts commission opportunity for a permanent landmark on a traffic island that would mark the entrance to the village.

Tonkin Liu’s winning design is underpinned with local historical research and the careful interpretation of the curved scars of the mining landscape and how these landscape lines can be reinterpreted into a ‘line going for a walk’. The result is an anamorphic red line spelling out, when all aligned on your approach by vehicle, the village name.

This red steel tube ‘dances’ across the traffic island at the entry to the village in two sections, forming sweeping red lines in front of a background of a rich green hedgerow. On the village side the tube is decorated in delightful flower stencils, inspired by community workshop sessions with the local school children. These flowers will, in time, sit above the wild flower meadow that has been planted under the sculpture. Part of the project was to encourage locals to bring this wild flower planting into the village, to physically connect all parts of the evolving community.

What could have been a sign or a cliched pit wheel with the name of Doe Lea tacked on below has been elevated, forming a series of new and evolving picture frames to the village and the landscape around. It surprises the mind with a playful, but rigorously underpinned, response to a brief that truly puts Doe Lea back on the map.

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Image credit: (C) Tonkin Liu

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