Creative contractors Flock to support stately home’s COVID-19 inspired art installation

Heritage construction specialists from the Woodhead Group weren’t simply content with their bird’s eye view of a massive COVID-19 art installation taking shape at Grade I listed stately home Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham.

The company and its contractors have been carrying out £4.8million of roof repairs at the mansion and its stable block for the last 22 months.

Contractors have been working to repair a huge 1,500m² (16,000+ square feet) area of the roof and are now in the final stages of restoring ornate Georgian stonework.

As they reach the final straits of what Woodhead’s site manager Andy Stamford describes as ‘the experience of a lifetime’, the craftsmen have watched The Flock taking shape on the vast lawns below.

The installation is made up of 10,000 little wooden birds carrying people’s memories of spring’s COVID-19 lockdown

Each bird is a tiny work of art created by toddlers, pensioners in care homes, parents, schoolchildren and key workers… And the Woodhead team.

Employees, sub-contractors and the families got creative on a batch of birds. A number even ended up with hard-hats and worker boots.

Thousands are expected to visit The Flock during October, just as the nation faces escalations in the Covid-19 infection rate.

Tom Woodhead, Business Services Director at Woodhead Group enlisted help from his two daughters. He commented: “Being so closely involved in a project as unique as Wentworth Woodhouse has been an incredible experience, particularly the challenges we have all been through over the last six months since the COVID-19 lockdown began. 

“When we saw plans for the art installation it resonated with us and we wanted to ‘fly with The Flock’ too.”

“Everyone in our supply chain and our employees on site have really pulled together in the COVID-19 crisis to keep the project moving forward safely.”

“Having the opportunity to create our own symbols of freedom on the birds has been inspirational.”

The Woodhead Group also made a contribution to the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust’s appeal fund and with subcontractors Lyndon SGB, who created the bespoke scaffolding encasing the entire mansion to facilitate roof repairs, created a raised viewing platform for The Flock.

Visitors can wander through the birds to read messages and take close-up photos of their favourites, then ascend the raised platform for view of the entire installation.

A piece of social history, The Flock concept was created by artists Julie Edwards and Ron Thompson, of Planet Art.

It launched on October 3rd, the same day the mansion re-opened to the public after closing in March.

The artists were appointed by Wakefield-based arts organisation Beam and Wentworth & Elsecar Great Place, a three-year partnership between Barnsley Council, Rotherham Council and Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.