The 15 x winning schools had been selected from 1500 incredible entries (the competition was opened in January 2023) to design a Coronation Bench – a huge fibreglass sculpture – and I was asked to work with a wonderful school in Milton Keynes.
Part of the commission was to visit the school and run a workshop with the children, to really get to know them and some of their ideas as to why they designed the bench as they had.
I had the most fabulous day with the Class of HB2 (Year 3 children) and Miss Hearne at Loughton School, confirming the colours, re-imagining and re-thinking some of the imagery and understanding what was important to the children and the message they wanted to get across. Sport featured heavily, as the children felt that sport was very important, where all were welcome and it was very inclusive. They wanted to represent some of the school’s values- love, hope, respect and charity being most prominent.
On the back of the bench, King Charles himself features and the children felt they wanted the daisy to represent both hope and change through a new beginning. The trees are a nod to King Charles’ and the school’s love for the environment and for conservation – with the added bonus that there is also a tree in the school logo.
Armed with all this information, I set about hand painting the bench – long days and tight deadlines meant that it was completed within the 3 week window over Easter and now, much to my (and the school’s) utter delight and honour, it is installed at the Tower of London for all to see. All 14 benches (and one in Belfast) are in situ until the end of the summer, when the trail finishes and the benches are given to the school as a gift.
If you would like to see the benches in all their gorgeous glory, you can find all the information you need and can visit the Tower of London website, via the link below, for more details.
Main image: © Historic Royal Palaces