The Frog by William Rounce is a new permanent, site-specific public artwork at Riverside Square in Bedford. Commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts and funded by Bedford Riverside Regeneration Limited, The Frog sets out to be a bold and playful response to the new square, to Bedford’s brick-making history and the concave ‘frog’ of a brick.
Sited among seating and newly planted trees, the area was previously a car park and public toilets. The artwork surrounds three sides of an electricity substation and references the London Brick Company Stewartby brickworks, as well as an in-filled window at the side of the Town Hall.
“As you come over the new bridge you can see the bricked up window on the old building,” said William, speaking about the work. “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.”
Bedford’s brickmaking industry transformed Bedford in the first half of the twentieth century and by the 1970’s the London Brick Company at Stewartby produced 20% of England’s bricks. It was the area’s main employer for the best part of a century. The brickworks closed in 2008.
In researching Bedford’s brickmaking history, the artist visited The Higgins Bedford and became fascinated with the ‘frog’ or indentation of the brick that is displayed at the museum, and started to explore ideas around perspective and illusion. “The mould of the brick is convex, yet the finished brick is concave,” said William. “I have used both the convex mould of the brick and the concave ‘frog’ to create a visual illusion. Different people will see a different perspective. The illusion may not be immediately apparent, so I hope it will be a talking point.”
With its futuristic feel and bold colours, it is hoped this contemporary artwork will invite visitors to pause to look at their surroundings and reflect on an important part of Bedford’s history.
The Frog William Rounce 2017
Commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts. Funded by Bedford Riverside Regeneration Limited. Artwork produced by specialist fabricators Artwork Solutions Limited. With thanks to Shape Studio, Bristol; Tessa Jackson OBE, independent curator and Erica Roffe PR. Image: Cat Lane 2017
Want to find out more? Take The Frog Trail
Take a walk along this free art trail tracing the inspiration behind the artwork.
The Frog Trail was commissioned by Riverside Bedford as part of the opening celebrations in September 2017. Riverside Bedford is a buzzing new leisure destination in the centre of Bedford offering a choice of great restaurants, a Vue cinema and a Premier Inn set in a stunning riverside location. Find out more at www.RiversideBedford.co.uk
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