The Wymering Wall is a narrative artwork designed and built in brick, stone, mortar and flints from the site. Unfolding from Portsdown Hill, it is an impressive one hundred and twenty metres of bending, twisting brickwork inscribed with community names, historical dates, quotes and embedded with fossils which together create a subtle surface texture.
The undulating shape, compressed on to ninety metres of land, challenged brick manufacturing and laying skills. The pedestrian entrance to the grounds of the new community centre is defined by a double archway with spiral columns, reflecting the trunk of the Wymering Tree. Relief sculpture keystones depicting the measurement of time sit above a large ornamental gate.
The workshops for the Wall ranged from drawing and model-making with Portsdown Primary School pupils to factory visits, hands-on brick laying and voluntary labour by adults. A video animation of the proposed wall was distributed to the community to raise awareness and to encourage people to visit the open workshops to inscribe their names on bricks.
Over one thousand bricks were personally inscribed by residents at the Ibstocks brick factory, and in workshops at the Community Centre and Horizon Resource Centre art group. A thousand more bricks were inscribed with dates and historical information from the prehistoric to the contemporary.
All the flint stones are from the site and the generic fossils were donated by a local collector. It took six months to finish the complex brickwork and six months either side to lay the foundations, make the bricks, gate and keystones. The wall was constructed by local skilled bricklayers.
Further information can be found in the brochure 'The Wymering Public Art Project' published by Portsmouth City Council, November 1999.
This text is an extract from 'The Wymering Public Art Project' published in 1999, Portsmouth City Council (www.portsmouth.gov.uk)
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