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Moon Probe
Beecroft Art Gallery
September 2016 - April 2017

The Moon Probe climbing frame has become an emblem and signature of MORNING, a long-term art project that attempts to identify the correlation between a series of climbing frames, designed in the 1970s and situated in Victoria Park, Laindon, with the area’s inclusion in the Basildon New Town experiment, and their simultaneous periods of change.

It was designed around 1973-76 by Charles Wicksteed and Co. as part of the company’s agility equipment series. A number of similar climbing frames from this period were installed across the UK in towns such as Basildon, which after its designation as a New Town in 1949 was heavily developed from the 1950s right through to the 1970s and 1980s; where Wicksteed’s climbing frames occupied a key role in the provision of play for Basildon’s children. However many of these have since been removed or neglected, becoming rusted and relic like.

This climbing frame in particular is aspirational in its design and looked to the space race for inspiration. This communicated wider notions of looking to the future, which mirrored the modernist utopian ideologies injected into the New Town experiments across the UK.

Moon Probe has been painted so it glows under UV light, similar to the heritage frames still in Victoria Park, Laindon. This intervention intends to suggest a transition from climbing frame to sculpture that allows discussions around play, social history, art and regeneration to come to the fore.

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MORNING is part of the Radical Essex programme

Photography: Colin Humphrey