Category Archives: Places

Do you have a favourite place in Harlow that you are particularly proud of? A green space, a park, perhaps your garden? Send us a picture, and why it means so much to you.

Harlow Skate Park – Young people taking positive action

Emma Toal talks about Harlow Skate Park, and being proud of young people taking positive action.

Whenever I go by the skate park, I am filled with pride. This is what young people can achieve when they put their mind to it and work together.

Harlow Skate Park

Recently, I heard someone talk about Harlow Skate Park as somewhere adults dislike and associate with wrong doing. I couldn’t disagree more with them, the skate park is one of my favourite places in Harlow and will always have a special place in my heart.

The 650sq m state-of-the-art skate park, located next to Burnt Mill School on First Avenue, was opened in 2008. That was after 20 long years of campaigning from skaters and the young people of Harlow.

I fondly remember many a summer day, in my teens, spent at the old wooden skate park – which used to be next to Pets Corner. I have to be honest though, I had no real interest in actually skating. I was there to hang out and to socialise, and quite honestly for the skater boys who resulted in many a teenage crush.

The park was always full of life and energy; it was welcoming at a time when I wasn’t really sure who I was myself. But, it was temporary and not challenging enough for the skaters. I remember always hearing the skaters moan about this and wondering why they couldn’t have something more permanent. I was even more baffled when we heard the council had money and plans to create a permanent skate park but it just kept getting stalled, local residents didn’t want it and everyone feared anti-social behaviour.

The Skaters didn’t want to upset their local community; they wanted to be part of it. Fighting for a new skate park became my passion. As a member of Harlow Youth Council we joined forces with the skaters and eventually we won, we managed to convince the ‘grown-ups’ to build our skate park. It is now firmly part of the town park and co-exists in harmony with its local residents.

Every year the skate park hosts the SX Urban Games – a day of adrenaline pumping entertainment for all ages to enjoy. Last year, over 700 talented youngsters from around Essex came to Harlow to compete and show off gravity-defying stunts on BMXs, scooters, and skateboards.

The skate park does mainly appeal to young people, but it has always welcomed those of all ages who are interested. Young people too often get a bad rep, the skate park seems to suffer from this problem as a result. I often wonder why is it that some adults seem to dislike this concrete park? It is the fear of danger that is associated with the sport, or a fear of anti-social behaviour because of the young people who use it?

Next time you are in Harlow Town Park and fancy having a wander, go have a look at the skate park – But really look at it; you will see somewhere that is accepting and is a safe place for so many young people who just want something to do and somewhere to go.

Whenever I go by the skate park, I am filled with pride. This is what young people can achieve when they put their mind to it and work together. It represents the spirit of Harlow, changing and adapting to the needs and will of all of its community.

Emma Toal


Gatehouse Arts – Vibrant Arts Community in heart of Harlow

Amanda Westbury writes about Gatehouse Arts; Art, Community and Friendship coming together in the heart of Harlow

many friendships formed through people working together to realise an idea or concept, through a joint venture putting on a show or event, or by just having a shared interest.

Gatehouse Arts first emerged in Harlow Town centre in July 2010 as part of the redevelopment plan for the Westgate area. At the time it consisted of 22 studio spaces and a gallery which made use of a floor of empty offices and an empty shop unit. In the past year the project has grown and now has 12 more studio’s and a window gallery in Eastgate, allowing affordable work spaces for 36 local and emerging artists and the opportunity to promotion and exhibit the diversity of artistic talent that exists in the local art community.

Resident artists in the studios include graphic designers, painters, sculptures, printers, illustrators, installation artists, photographers , public artists and designer makers specialising in ceramic, mosaic, contemporary basket weaving, origami, leather work, floral art to mention a few. Gatehouse Arts hold an open Weekend in October every year, allowing the public a unique chance to visit the studio’s, speak to the artists, ask questions and see what they do.

OctOpenStudios oct 2013

Gatehouse Art in the few years of its existence has achieved many things to be proud of. It is a place that anyone can visit and be welcomed as part of a group which is helping to regenerate and encourage exciting new and diverse work in Harlow . It works with other local trusts and groups to promote and drive forward the Arts in the Town and promote Harlow’s rich cultural interests to a wider national and international audience. But it is also a place that allows individuals a space to concentrate on their own creative practice in a supporting and nurturing environment.

hung voong thumb

Open Studio Event – Hung Voong’s studio

There is a vibrant art community developing amongst the individuals in the studio’s, where the wealth of creative knowledge can be shared by the group, offering its members first hand guidance, support and advice in all aspects of artistic and creative practice. There have also been many friendships formed through people working together to realise an idea or concept, through a joint venture putting on a show or event or by just having a shared interest.

retro jubilee event 2012

The development of Gatehouse Arts has helped to bring new vitality into the shopping parades of the town centre by providing in the gallery spaces a constantly changing visual window of new, exciting and sometimes challenging art works. The gallery has also been a popular local venue provided a free welcoming space for the local community to experience interesting and professionally presented art exhibitions and events, and for them to voice their own interest in the arts and culture that Harlow is proud of.

Amanda Westbury

Studio 19


Details of the artists work, and current and planned events, can be found on the Gatehouse Arts website

Mystery Shark’s tooth in Hollyfield, Harlow

Behind my childhood home in Hollyfield, there is a sculpture, in fact if we had a back gate it would open onto a rather prominent stone column. It’s been there as long as I can remember, protruding though the pavement, into the little paved residential square, off-centre enough to suggest whomever placed it was not interested in making it a focal point.

Stone Carving Number One by Menashe Kadishman. Photo by Jo O Reilly

Stone Carving Number One by Menashe Kadishman. Photo by Jo O Reilly

As children we used to climb it, the grooves in its sides made it perfect for rudimentary rock climbing. I sacrificed many a layer of skin on each knee clambering to the top if it. The shark’s tooth it was known as, despite in neither appearance nor texture resembling one.

Before the house is sold in the coming weeks, before I will no longer cross paths with its great stone presence on a weekly basis, I decided I should find out more about the shark’s tooth. In fact its actual name is the less impressive sounding, Stone carving number 1 (there is also a second part, Stone carving number 2 around the corner). It is not it turns out, a remnant from the Stone Age, nor is it, as I had always assumed my own personal Stonehenge. It is in fact a piece of work by a rather renowned Israeli artist, Menashe Kadishman.

Born in 1932 in Tel Aviv, Kadishman was a one-time shepherd who went on to study at the Avni Institute of art and design in Tel Aviv. In 1959 he came to London, continuing his studies at St Martin’s school of art. His time in London was spent primarily focusing on sculpture; with a particular interest in minimalism, he had his first one-man show in 1965 at the Grosvenor Gallery.

Kadishman went on to have substantial success; The Jewish Museum in Berlin is the permanent home of his sculpture ‘Falling Leaves’. Focusing less, in his later years on sculpture and more painting. His recent work uses bright bold canvases featuring images of sheep inspired by his time as a shepherd. His work is now visible around the world, from his home town of Tel Aviv, to New York, Tokyo, and of course, Hollyfield.

Whilst there is a whole wealth of information out there about Kadishman, in fact in 2005 Israeli website Ynet voted him the 176th greatest Israeli of all time, my research has found little information about the carvings themselves.

What I do know is that in 1965, the same year of his Grosvenor Gallery exhibition, Kadishman found himself at the Harlow Arts Festival. It was there, according the original Harlow sculpture trail map, the one before we became an official ‘sculpture town’, that the stone carvings both 1 and 2 were acquired by Harlow arts Trust. It also mentions that originally they were ‘part of a very large sculpture.’ No other details are provided.

There is no mention of when or why it was decided they should be placed in Hollyfield. Equally frustrating there is no mention of where the rest of the sculpture, if they were in fact part of a larger piece, found their home. My shark’s tooth it seems isn’t yet ready to give up all of its mystery.

As I run through the list of places you can see Kadishman work on permanent display around the world, I notice a glaring omission. Under The United Kingdom I am informed his work is on permanent display in The Tate, I make a mental note next time I am there to search it out. In the meantime, before I leave Hollyfield, I do my bit for the area, making use of the Wikipedia edit function; I add it to the list.

Jo O’Reilly

Twitter: @JoMarieOReilly

Civic Service – Pride in Community

The Civic Service yesterday – 21st July 2013 – was a good reason to be proud of this town.

Not just for its vibrant Arts community, or its fine tradition of Amateur Theatre.  Not for the wealth of green space that makes it so pleasant a place to live.  Not for the sculptures that give Harlow its status as a Sculpture Town.

But proud to see that with dignitaries from around the county of Essex, there was the chance to celebrate alongside the Islamic Centre, and the Pentecostal Church.

In this day and age, it is easy for people to become close minded, and to turn away from those who have different beliefs, cultures, faiths.

Yesterday showed that open-mindedness is still there in Harlow – and for that I believe we all should be proud.

Wendy Beckett

Smile – Gibberd Gardens

Historians and garden experts describe Sir Frederick Gibberd’s garden as being a ‘20th century masterpiece’ or ‘landscape as theatre’, but it simply makes me smile.

Pregnant Girl Kneeing

Smile because Sir Frederick didn’t have a grand plan for his garden, if something didn’t work he simply moved it elsewhere or got rid of it altogether.  Wonderful that the method he used was so haphazard yet the results are the topic of academic papers.

Mr Deer

Smile also because he has achieved a wonderful calmness and tranquillity an oasis away from everyday worries and the hustle and bustle of modern life.  You can relax in the ‘Mediterranean’ garden and imagine you are in the South of France, or play on the swing or the moated castle; there is a place for every mood.

Above all the garden was conceived as a family garden designed by Sir Frederick and populated with sculptures by his wife Patricia for themselves and their children to enjoy.  That is how it remains today, a family garden that everyone can enjoy.

Construction 11

Smile because Sir Fred had a great sense of humour.  Who else could place two very large columns in sight of the railway line to make people rushing past think there was some sort of roman temple in the midst of the Essex countryside?

Smile also because the sculptures at least were as a result of Sir Frederick’s love affair, and subsequent marriage to Patricia Fox-Edwards.  She started the collection by giving him a wedding present of ‘City’ one of the 80 or so sculptures in the garden.

Lastly smile because of the hundred or so volunteers who regularly give up their own time shows that the community spirit that was so much in evidence when the new town was built is still alive today.

Kevin Joyce