Emerging freelance curator Nikki Hawkins was appointed to work with The Arts Development Company to curate the 2018 Lyme Regis Sculpture Trail, funded by Lyme Regis Town Council and Lyme Forward. Here Nikki walks us through the process from selecting sculptures, working with artists and partners to final installation:

Selection Process

After my appointment to the project, the first stage was meeting the team at The Arts Development Company to select the final pieces from the submissions.  With four plinths to fill we were looking for existing sculptures that created a cohesive group, whilst offering opportunities to both new and established artists from across Dorset.

Site Meeting

Next was a site meeting at Langmoor Gardens in Lyme Regis with the project partners Adrian Rathbone from Lyme Forward, Mark Green from Lyme Regis Town Council and the project founder and previous curator John Calder.  On a rather wet winters day, we headed out to find the ‘hidden’ plinth systems in the garden; some were so well hidden John needed his special plinth divining rod to locate them.  Well almost all of them, one is still eluding us to date!

John Calder uncovering plinth locations Site meeting at Lyme Regis in winter


I then contacted the selected artists from Dorset to discuss some of the more technical logistics of how to secure their work and material considerations;  one is made of sheet lead for example which necessitated a site away from direct access by the public. A key aspect I learnt on working in the public realm is how this impacts on the way sculpture is installed and sited, as there is no monitoring or gallery style security.

Final selection

Brendon Murless’ stunning The Air We Breathe would sit flanked by two hedges with clear views beyond to enhance the silhouette of his sculpture.

Brendan Murless with his sculpture 'The Air We Breathe'

Brendan Murless with his sculpture ‘The Air We Breathe’

While Carrie Mason Breaking Through’s organic form would look perfect amongst the pebbles on the lower pavilion roof:

Carrie Mason's Breaking Through

We had also chosen Isla Chaney’s beautiful new ceramic sculptures Open Form 1 and 2, which needed to be sited in a protected location but visible.

Cleo, Isla and I then headed back to Lyme Regis for another site meeting to decide on suitable locations.

We took into account the scale of the gardens and multiple pathways for visitors to explore. With this in mind, we decided to retain the existing four sculptures in the gardens to enhance the trail and create content at both the east and west end.

Isla Chaney surveying her installations Open Form 1 and 2 at Langmoor Gardens

Isla Chaney surveying her installations Open Form 1 and 2 at Langmoor Gardens


Final installation day was thankfully sunny and warm despite the forecast and a number of us wearing thermals!   John Calder joined us armed with specialist equipment including metal grids, sledgehammers, drills and even a portable jig for cutting posts to the right angle!

After the obligatory ‘thinking juice’ coffee, work commenced and in a matter of a few hours, all the work was installed. Posts were bashed, concrete blocks painted, grids buried under pebbles, name plaques installed and only one sandwich stolen by the ever helpful seagulls!

John Calder, Isla Chaney and Cleo Evans on installation day

John Calder, Isla Chaney and Cleo Evans on installation day

It has been an amazing experience to curate my first outdoor public sculpture trail. My network has now grown to those I hope to work with again on future projects.

A big thank you to The Arts Development Company, especially team member Cleo Evans for this opportunity and in particular a big thank you to John Calder for all his incredible input, enthusiasm and support. It really was a fantastic team effort.

Langmoor Gardens sculpture in Lyme Regis

(L-R) Nikki Hawkins, Cleo Evans, Brendan Murless, Sarah James Arts Development Company CEO, Lyme Regis Town Councillor, Adrian Rathbone of Lyme Forward, Hix Restaurant staff, Mark Green of Lyme Regis Town Council

Having learnt a great deal through this process, I am keen to work with the team to secure future funding to develop and continue the trail.  But for now, I am working on producing a short film on the South Dorset Ridgeway in winter!

Read more about the Lyme Sculpture Trail at Langmoor Gardens here

See the final Land of Bone and Stone South Dorset Ridgeway film Nikki also worked on here