Remembering the Grand Depart

Swaledale Festival's Tour de France Commemorative Sculpture

  • 11 March 2015
  • Author: Janet
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Remembering the Grand Depart

The yellow bikes may have gone and the TdF bunting has come down but the Yorkshire Dales’ day of glory when the Tour de France came through Reeth is permanently commemorated in the community garden at Hudson House. When the Swaledale Festival, along with other arts organisations, was invited to do something as part of the Festival of Culture surrounding the Grand Départ, Artistic Director Malcolm Creese considered the options and decided to do something different rather than another ephemeral event. As the Festival covers visual arts as well as music, he sought Board approval to commission a commemorative sculpture that would be part of a project with local school students.

Difficulties in raising the funding almost led to the project’s cancellation, but the tenacity of the project’s supporters meant that eventually the go-ahead was given. The sculptor who made the work was Welsh-born, now Reeth based Michael Kusz who works in metal, frequently recycled, and whose sculptures often feature mythical and fantastical creatures. For this project some of the students contributed ideas and in turn Michael taught them techniques so that they could make their own sculptures. Some of these also joined the main sculpture in the community garden on a temporary basis. Michael decided that the TdF commemoration should be made from recycled bicycle parts and Malcolm Creese set about collecting contributions from cycle shops and elsewhere on his journeys around the country.

At the end of June 2014, a few days before the Tour came through Reeth, the sculpture, named Re:Cycling was unveiled. Since then it has proved to have the ‘Wow!’ factor as that is what people say when they see it. In different lights the colours change and it shimmers. In the wind it shakes gently, but whatever the conditions it remains beautiful and a unique reminder of a very special day in Swaledale’s history. 

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