Public Art in Swindon: Nexus at Freshbrook

In part 4 of this series my companion and myself visited Hey Diddle Diddle’ in The Prinnels, West Swindon. Now we move onto WSSW Part 5: Nexus at Freshbrook.

I’ve explained about spending the last twenty years seeing but not really ‘noticing’ that sculpture from the bus and never realising the significance of it. Which is a bit shameful when you think of it.  Well I’m sorry to say that my chagrin doesn’t end there. Oh dear me no! The situation with this next one is very similar I’m sorry to say.  Even as my friend and I were reading the ‘bumph’ about Nexus I still wasn’t making the connection. And ‘connection’ is most apposite indeed. It was only as we approached Freshbrook that I realized what we were going to. Doh!

About Nexus at Freshbrook

The blurb has this to say about this art work: ‘Nexus 1986. Artist Hideo Furuta. Material: Blue Pennant stone. Project details: Nexus was carved by the artist, using hand-made tools, in public and in situ. The residency was funded by Thamesdown Borough Council and Southern Arts.’

Nexus at Fresbrook - A West Swindon Sculpture Trail Travelogue - nexus at Freshbrook
Nexus by Hideo Futura at Freshbrook

Now, much like glimpsing ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ several times a week from the bus and it never registering, the same applies here.

I walk to Freshbrook several times a week and had never given it any thought. Well that’s no longer the case. I’m still not sure that I like this one but having read about it and pondered on it some, it’s becomes more interesting.

Nexus – join the dots

The name of it for a start. The word ‘Nexus’ ( I did actually know this) comes from the Latin of ‘‘a binding together’, from nex- ‘bound’, from the verb nectere.

It also has the connotation of meaning  a connection or series of connections linking two or more things. So th the nexus between industry and political power for example. Or it can denote a connected group or series: a nexus of ideas. Or a central or focal point. For instance, the nexus of any government in this country is No. 10.

So, to my mind, the ‘meaning’ of this sculpture works on a couple of levels – especially when you consider that it rests on railway sleepers. So, in the first instance, in the macro or the big picture, the railway undoubtedly let Swindon become the town that it is today. A place that links with the rest of the south-west and with the south-east.

But on a micro or more local level, I think what’s key, is the fact that Freshbrook village centre is:

  1. A focal point for Freshbrook itself being the home of a community centre, a Drs surgery, a dentist, a pharmacy, a supermarket, a hairdresser, a takeaway, a school, a pub and a church – all needs catered for there I think.
  2. But also, it’s sort of at the centre of Grange Park, Westlea, Freshbrook itself, in so much as it forms a link – a Nexus – between them all.

Ergo I reckon, the idea of this sculpture is that represents the function of Freshbrook as a pivot for the above. I stress though that this is only my interpretation. It could have been meant as something else entirely. But then isn’t art a bit like literature – we can each get a different meaning from it?

The meaning of art?

So, there you have it. Like I say, I’m not sure that I’d go so far as to say that I ‘like’ this one. In so much as it doesn’t trigger those indefinable pleasure receptors in me. Not in the way some of the others on this walk do. But now I’ve studied it and thought about it properly – I definitely find it interesting.

I’m not Charles Saatchi or Brian Sewell – but maybe the thing with art is simply to engage with it and work out what your own responses are?

If there’s a message I want to convey in writing about these sculptures it’s this: right here on your doorstep you have this wonderful entity, this West Swindon Sculpture walk. But don’t only take my word for it all. Get out there, look at them and think about them. And even if – like me with this particular one – you don’t like one or more of them, simply appreciate that we have them.

Here’s a link to a map of this sculpture trail. And more on the West Swindon Sculpture walk here.