Campaign started to save community art group in memory of county artist

Ray Brooks carving using a chainsaw. Picture: Ray Brooks

Ray Brooks carving using a chainsaw. Picture: Ray Brooks - Credit: Archant

A group of artists are trying to keep a community workshop going in honour of a late fellow member who was their inspiration.

A story telling seat created for Reepham Primary School. Picture: Ray Brooks

A story telling seat created for Reepham Primary School. Picture: Ray Brooks - Credit: Archant

The Heaven Sculpture Yard, in Coney Weston, is home to a community of artists who have been creating sculptures out of wood using chainsaws, chisels and sanders for the past 20 years.

It not only offers a refuge for artistic talent but a place of support and expertise to those who visit the eco-friendly site.

Ecologists and artist, Andy Manning, 52, said: 'We don't make a huge living here. We are providing public art at a price they can afford when we could charge more.

'I came here 15 years ago from ecology and Ben Platts-Mills mentored me into an artist. He was very generous and charismatic. I try to share that with young people now by trying to carry on the generosity that I was shown.'

Ray Brooks at work. Picture: Doug Blanks

Ray Brooks at work. Picture: Doug Blanks - Credit: Douglas Blanks


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But now, the yard has been left without power after their solar power system broke after the inverter 'blew up'. They are hoping to raise £5,000 to replace the solar inverter and purchase additional solar panels and equipment.

Mr Manning added: 'A lot of our work is sitting with people and giving the community a chance but we are running on a shoestring and at the moment it is more than we can afford.'

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Mr Manning and a team of four other artists worked on a piece for the Lee Valley White Water Centre for the London 2012 Olympics for 14 months. Over his career he has created around 70 pieces with the community creating more than 300 pieces of art.

He added: 'What we are trying to do is make the site as efficient as possible. As well as creating art we are a space to support and mentor young artists, we are an experiment in alternative living and the best possible way we live from the sun.

A piece created by the artists at the Heaven Sculpture Yard. Picture: Ray Brooks

A piece created by the artists at the Heaven Sculpture Yard. Picture: Ray Brooks - Credit: Archant

'We have had a number of failures and as we are not making a lot of money we though a crowdfunding would be a good idea.'

For more information and to donate go to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/solar-heaven-1

A 40ft dragon made of oak by Ray Brooks from the Heaven Sculpture Yard. Picture: Ray Brooks

A 40ft dragon made of oak by Ray Brooks from the Heaven Sculpture Yard. Picture: Ray Brooks - Credit: Archant

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