A SCULPTURE based on an apple peel is to be installed at a shopping centre in Didcot after being redesigned over health and safety fears.

The Swirl will go into the Orchard Centre next month after winning planning permission from South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC).

Didcot Town Council objected to the original plans over concerns youngsters would climb on it and because it was situated too close to the steps near Sainsbury’s.

Following the objections, SODC planners agreed the sculpture should be repositioned so that it is a minimum of two metres away from the steps.

The Oxford Times:

Artist Maria Rosa Kramer

The district council will install the £85,000 sculpture in front of Argos, on Wednesday, March 12, from 8am to 9am.

Town council leader Margaret Davies said: “The position of the sculpture was changed slightly so that it is not so close to the edge of the steps. I like modern art and personally I am all in favour of this – it seems very appropriate.

“The sculpture has been funded by developer contributions – it’s money specifically for public art – so you can’t argue that it should have been spent instead on flood prevention or something else.”

Designer Maria Rosa Kramer said the design of the 6.7m-high artwork represents the peel of an apple, to tie in with the area’s origins. The sculpture is a reference to an orchard which once stood in the garden of a house in the area.

One side of the sculpture’s ribbon design is polished to represent an apple’s flesh, while the other side is painted red, representing an apple’s skin.

Ms Kramer said: “I’m really excited about the imminent arrival of The Swirl.

“I love Didcot and it’s a huge privilege for me that this sculpture is coming here.”

Bill Service, SODC cabinet member for leisure, said: “I am really looking forward to seeing The Swirl standing tall at the Orchard Centre.

“Public art like this helps to give a place identity and makes it really stand out from other town centres around the county.”

There will be a display about the sculpture at Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot from Saturday.

It will chart its development, and feature work created by pupils from Northbourne Primary School in a workshop with the artist.

Cash for the project has come from Orchard Centre developer Taylor Woodrow, SODC’s Didcot Growth Fund and Hammerson, the centre’s leaseholder.

Hammerson and SODC announced plans for a £125m second phase of the Orchard Centre in 2011 but a planning application has not yet been submitted.