Decoratative Pond Cover Prior's Court School, Berkshire

The pond cover for Prior’s Court School was a very special commission – a decorative art-work to be made to fill a practical need. A beautiful lily pond inhabited by gold fish occupies a central point in the formal garden of the 18th century house, which is now used as a school. While being lovely to look at, it represented a series of hazards to the pupils resident at the school: Prior’s Court School is custom-built for pupils with autism. Some autistic individuals are afflicted by epileptic seizures. The concern of my client, the benefactor of the school, was that pupils admiring the pool and its contents might unexpectedly fall in.

My brief from the commissioning agent, Bohun Gallery, Henley, was to create a decorative cover to suspend over the pond. It was to be strong enough to support the body weight of a 16-year-old boy. I also needed to create a tracery which would have nowhere within its design an open space of more than 4 inches. This is a specification of health and safety regulations, and necessary to prevent the head of a four-year-old child reaching the water level of the pond. The cover must also be light enough for a single gardener to lift, to clean the pond. The garden setting is itself very formal and ordered, oscillating between the oblong of the pond and its surround to a circular focal point with its classic William Turnbull sculpture.

The safety constraints of the design, married with the existing aesthetics of the garden and its sculpture, defined the pond cover. The radiating lines of the upper paving stones and the oblongs and squares of the lower paving determined the grid. The pond cover, with its spinning centre and its radiating lines, belongs to the garden and looks as if it has always been there. The fish are fed through the grid of the cover and at a certain times of the year the water lilies grow through the grid creating an exotic and bizarre garden in full bloom.

DECORATIVE POND COVER
ALUMINIUM
2000/2001
PRIOR’S COURT SCHOOL, BERKSHIRE
PHOTOGRAPHS: STEPHEN WHITE

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Decorative Pond Cover, Prior's Court School Berkshire


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Decorative Pond Cover, Prior's Court School Berkshire