Travelling north out of town can be seen a piece of modern sculpture, it depicts the figure of the running woman which represents the present moment in time, caught for an instant in its ceaseless forward movement. The rich tapestry of West Malling’s past is shown on the back of the cloak that billows out behind her. The future is still to happen, the dove has yet to take flight and when it does, it will carry with it all our “hopes and prayers for ourselves”, our community and our world. Commissioned and paid for by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council in June 2000, in consultation with West Malling Parish Council and the Malling Society, it was unveiled on Saturday 7 July 2001. The scenes depicted on the eight panels on the back of the cloak represent the following: 1. Today, West Malling is a thriving community with a rich tradition of community art. The sculpture of Hope provides another focal point within the town where people can meet. 2. West Malling Airﬁeld and its Mosquito squadrons featured significantly in the Second World War. 3. West Malling was and to a great extent still is, the centre of a rich agricultural tradition of hop gardens and orchards. 4. In 1704 the first ever recorded game of cricket was played in West Malling. 5. For many hundreds of years, the town was the site of a thriving market under a charter from the Abbess and the market continued even after the dissolution of the Abbey by Henry VIII. 6. Wyatt’s rebellion against Mary Tudor was crushed by troops loyal to the Queen, stationed at West Malling. Wyatt was then executed in 1554. 7. Scenes from the time of the Black Death (1348-49), when West Malling was the site of mass graves or plague pits, where the dead from a wide area of North West Kent were buried. Of the inhabitants of the whole town and the Abbey only 15 remained alive. 8. The founding of the community of Benedictine nuns by Bishop Gundulph in 1090. A centre of prayer for 5 centuries before the dissolution of the monasteries, the community was re-established at the start of the Sarah Cunnington was born in Kent in 1953 and studied at St Martin’s School of Art from 1970-74. She now lives with her husband in France, combining her work as a painter and sculptor with teaching children. The statue of ‘Hope’ for West Malling was her first large scale commission and much of her inspiration for the piece was based on knowing and loving the village since her childhood. Her work has been exhibited with the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour at the Mall Galleries and with the Society of Women Artists at the Westminster Galleries...Read More »
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