Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre – An art work that encourages people to donate to the upkeep of this fantastic headland.

The Bournemouth Parks Foundation are exploring ideas for a bespoke installation for the courtyard at Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre which reacts to a contactless donation from visitors.

We want to commission an artist/designer/programmer/engineer (‘the artist’) to come up with and realise a fun, intriguing, unique way of encouraging people to donate money to this great environmental and historical site.  We want to amaze and delight the visitor so that they too will want to donate and be rewarded with ‘the prize/experience’ that comes from donating.

This is a great opportunity to unleash your imagination and put in to practice your dream ideas of how to engage emotionally with people and to trigger the desire to donate in a fun creative way for a great cause.   There are a few stipulations as below but generally it is an open brief.

About Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head is a nationally and internationally renowned landmark in respect of its ecology, archaeology and geology. It covers an area of approximately 162 hectares and is situated at the eastern-most point of the Borough of Bournemouth. It is an integral part of the Christchurch Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that includes the estuarine harbour and Stanpit Marsh LNR in the Borough of Christchurch. As a whole, the Harbour complex forms a unique landscape that is a haven for both people and wildlife in an otherwise predominantly urban setting.

Surveys have identified a wide range of habitats including heathland, woodland, grassland, salt marshes, dunes, cliffs, ponds, sea and harbour shorelines. These habitats support a remarkable diversity of plants and animals e.g. there are 500 plant species, a quarter of the national flora including eight red data book species, 14 nationally scarce and 39 locally rare species. There are 700 moth species, again a quarter of the national total of approximately 2,600 known species. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded and Hengistbury Head is recognised as an important migratory point. The nature reserve is home to the Natterjack toad, Britain’s rarest native amphibian.

The geology of the site is of international importance. The imposing ironstone beds set in clay have their origins 60 million years ago in a warm, tropical delta. Today, standing on the beach one can travel back in time from post-glacial river terraces and wind-blown sands through to the clay and ironstone deposits. The current landform has been shaped by natural and man-made processes, such as sea-level changes and quarrying.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that Hengistbury Head has been occupied by man almost continuously for 14,000 years. The earliest evidence (Old Stone Age) is an open-air hunter-gatherers camp, one of only three such sites known in Britain. Stone Age occupation continues through to the first farmers of the Neolithic, 5,000 years ago. There is evidence of Bronze Age cemeteries and then, in the Iron Age it was to become a major port for trade links throughout Europe. Research is ongoing and recent excavations (2000) revealed previously unknown Iron Age and Bronze Age activities, the most spectacular of which was crab apple offerings at a Bronze Age cremation, the first of its kind in Britain. Hengistbury Head is designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Hengistbury Head is an incredibly popular natural attraction to both local residents and tourists from around the world with an estimated 1 million visits annually. Many visit because of the intrinsic natural beauty and for the stunning views across the Solent and Christchurch Harbour.

In 2013 with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, developer contributions and a landfill communities fund, a new £1m visitor centre was opened.

Key requirements are:

  • Theme must relate to the interpretive stories of Hengistbury Head which include ecology, archaeology, geology
  • The installation must have a ‘wow’ factor capable of exciting visitors and thereby prompting donations – which is a key aim of the project
  • The feature must integrate with a contactless donation system (i.e. work with a simple micro switch trigger)
  • The design must incorporate some element of movement, sound or activity triggered by the receiving of a donation
  • The installation must be robust, weatherproof and reliable requiring minimal maintenance
  • The installation will be situated outside and possibly under a canopy – depending on ideas
  • The design life must be a minimum of 5 years
  • Power will be available
  • Bournemouth Parks Foundation and the Fine Family Foundation will reserve the right to replicate the design/concept/technology.

Nesta support

In August 2018 Bournemouth Parks Foundation (http://www.bournemouthparksfoundation.org.uk) had confirmation that they were successful in winning a digital prototyping award from Nesta https://www.nesta.org.uk/ . The Foundation was one of only 5 successful organisations nationally to win an innovation grant

The award is to develop robust contactless / tap to give hardware for external use on sites both supervised and unsupervised with a technology company providing the hardware / interactive solutions to enable giving in an increasingly cashless society.

The Nesta project links with this commission.

Collaborating with Technology Company

The Bournemouth Parks Foundation arrangement with the partner technology company extends to working with third parties and in particular this Fine Family Foundation funded art and design competition for the creation of an installation in the courtyard at the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre.

The potential for working in partnership formed part of the Parks Foundation’s original application for funding to Nesta and in this respect the agreement with Nesta is now signed.

The outlay from the Nesta grant contributes toward the prototyping elements which includes the commitment by the technology company and its subcontractor to work with the Bournemouth Parks Foundation and the appointed artist, ensuring that the two projects are aligned successfully.

Certain milestones have been agreed with Nesta as part of this 15 month project with the intention to run trials in summer 2019.


An artist is required to submit initial ideas including outline costs for consideration by the selection panel.

Up to four artists will be shortlisted and be commissioned for an inclusive fee of £500 (including expenses) to visit the site, develop their ideas and present these broad concepts to the selection panel. The panel will select their preferred artist/designer/programmer/engineer from the shortlisted applicants.

The site:

Visitor Centre courtyard

Further information:



Important dates

  • Deadline for stage 1 applications: 5pm Thursday 15th November 2018
  • Shortlisting will take place on Monday 19th November 2018
  • Site visits for up to four shortlisted artists will take place on Thursday 22nd November 2-4pm
  • Presentations of your outline concepts will be held in Bournemouth on Friday 7th December where the artists will be asked to present their broad stages. The final decision will be made on the strength of those submissions. Artists must be able to attend the above two dates.
  • The appointed artist will be informed by Monday 17th December
  • It is envisaged that the work will be developed and installed during 2019 however timescales will be confirmed and will be determined to fit with the Nesta project


The total budget available for the successful artist will be up to £10,000 inclusive of the artist fee, materials and production costs for this installation.

A contractual agreement including development stages and payment schedule will be agreed between the appointed person/organisation and Bournemouth Parks Foundation and this will include a warranty/maintenance period of the installation.

To apply:

Proposals for initial approach and past relevant commissions should be presented in a pdf document. A separate cv summary of skills, and images of past work and relevant projects can also be provided as a pdf of up to 6 sides.

Proposals and cv should be emailed to:

Cleo Evans

Arts and Environment Lead

The Arts Development Company