Tak­ing flight:

A me­mo­rial sculp­ture planned for North Creake’s for­mer air­field had an un­usual in­spi­ra­tion...

Norfolk - - CONTENTS -

A new sculp­ture for an old air­field

If all goes to plan, a new sculp­ture will be un­veiled at the for­mer North Creake air­field next year to com­mem­o­rate the brave air­men who flew from the base in the Sec­ond World War.

The sculp­ture will be a Short Stir­ling bomber, 22ft wide, but the in­spi­ra­tion for the style of the sculp­ture came from... a rac­ing car ex­haust pipe. Sculp­tor Andy Knighton was an avid race car en­gi­neer. When a friend de­clared that the con­struc­tion of an ex­haust he had made was ‘a work of art’, Andy be­gan to won­der if he might be able to use his en­gi­neer­ing skills to cre­ate ‘real works of art’.

It was this thought that made him de­cide to de­sign and cre­ate a steel sculp­ture of a sail­ing dinghy that he would be able to present to his lo­cal sail­ing club to mark its 50th an­niver­sary. It went down a storm

His sec­ond ef­fort was to make a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a Spit­fire, cho­sen be­cause he had al­ways ad­mired the dis­tinc­tive shape of the le­gendary air­craft. “The most im­por­tant de­ci­sion I made was to mount my sculp­ture of the fighter plane on a tall pole, al­low­ing it to be seen from be­low against the back­ground of the sky, as if it were ac­tu­ally in flight,” says Andy.

More sculp­tures fol­lowed, in­clud­ing two Spit­fires fly­ing in for­ma­tion, as well as sev­eral other con­struc­tions de­signed to mimic winged crea­tures in flight, with owls and drag­on­flies be­ing

favourite sub­jects. Andy quickly re­alised that he was ob­tain­ing more plea­sure from cre­at­ing these sculp­tures than he had ever done from con­struct­ing rac­ing cars.

“I have just fin­ished build­ing an AC Co­bra. While this is a beau­ti­ful and pow­er­ful car, I found the process of mak­ing it rather like con­struct­ing Mec­cano, so I de­cided that it would be the last car I would make. As well as giv­ing up my for­mer hobby, I have also stopped work­ing in the fam­ily busi­ness, en­abling me to de­vote all my time to mak­ing sculp­tures,” he says.

The Der­byshire-based artist has now ex­tended his reper­toire by con­struct­ing some large-scale sculp­tures. These in­clude a model of a Lan­caster Bomber with a 22 ft wing­span, which Andy has do­nated to the Lin­colnshire Avi­a­tion Her­itage Cen­tre. The cu­ra­tors are so pleased with this gift that they re­fer to it fondly as ‘The Gate Guardian’, hav­ing po­si­tioned it at the en­trance to the for­mer Sec­ond World War air­field at East Kirkby.

The sculp­ture Andy is work­ing on cur­rently is a re­sponse to a com­mis­sion from Claire Nu­gent and Nigel Morter, the pro­pri­etors of a vege­tar­ian bed and break­fast housed in the con­trol tower of a for­mer bomber base at North Creake near the north Nor­folk coast. This new sculp­ture, which also has a 22ft wing span, will be an ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a Short Stir­ling, which was the first four-en­gine bomber to be used by the RAF and flew from the county on se­cret mis­sions in sup­port of D-Day.

Nigel and Claire, who bought the con­trol tower in 2011 and have fur­nished their novel B&B with suit­able pe­riod fea­tures, aim to cre­ate a fit­ting me­mo­rial on the for­mer air­field to the air­men who were based at North Creake.

Nigel says: “At the present time, we are fundrais­ing for the project and our aim is to have the me­mo­rial in place by Au­gust 2020, which is the 75th an­niver­sary of the dis­band­ment of RAF North Creake. Hav­ing seen ex­am­ples of Andy’s sculp­tures on Face­book and hav­ing gone to see his in­stal­la­tion at East Kirkby, we think that his art is amaz­ing. We have been de­lighted to com­mis­sion him to pro­duce a sculp­ture of the Stir­ling to be used as the cen­tre­piece of our me­mo­rial.”

TOP RIGHT: Andy Knighton at work on the sculp­ture of a Short Stir­ling he is mak­ing for a me­mo­rial at the for­mer North Creake Bomber Base

RIGHT: Claire Nu­gent and Nigel Morter out­side their Con­trol Tower Bed and Break­fast at Bunkers Hill

OP­PO­SITE: A dou­ble sculp­ture of Spit­fires in flight

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