The ‘Oldham Owl’ project was a commission to design and deliver a major new civic sculpture re-imagining the Oldham town emblem as the centerpiece of the transformation of the old Town Hall and surrounding streets, creating the new Parliament Square and a cinema and restaurant complex. Working with James Millington, Landscape Architect at BDP, Benedict also designed new seating and planters as a setting for the sculptures within the new civic space.
Benedict’s redesign of Oldham’s town mascot, the long eared owl, sees the birds placed on top of four tall columns. On each column base, Benedict reproduced the pattern found on the columns in the Egyptian Hall inside the old Town Hall complex. This highly decorative tree pattern design was chosen to reference Oldham’s nationally significant fossil forest discovered in the 19th century, which was hailed at the time as ‘the 8th Wonder of Europe’. The Oldham Owl is thought to have first appeared on the Oldham family crest some five to six hundred years ago, and may be how Oldham got its name!
The Oldham Owl sculpture uses references to key features taken from the old Town Hall and Oldham’s civic symbol to tie together the history and architecture of the town. The artwork was designed to sit at the top and bottom of Parliament Square, functioning both as civic symbol and as a place for people to meet, relax and play.
Collaborators: James Millington, Landscape Architect, BDP
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Exhibited/displayed: Parliament Square, Greaves Street, Oldham, OL1 1QN