Energy Sculptures

The TNA Energy Sculptures

The sculptures encourage us to think about ENERGY,
how we use it and where it comes from.

savingM windM solarM
geoM bioM waterM



 In late 2009 the Energy Group of Transition Newton Abbot CIC (TNA) decided to create public art for Newton Abbot representing energy saving and renewable energy.  Our Energy Sculptures and their message  are the result.

The journey  has been a long and interesting one.  What you now see in Newton Abbot is the product of a lot of good will, hard work and persistence in turning this idea into reality.

We want to thank everyone who helped us along the way, especially:

  • Chris Amey, local artist, who gave us permission to adapt our sculptures from his original design.
  • The Newton Abbot Town Council and especially Phil Rowe, Town Clerk, who embraced our initiative and helped us with planning submissions.
  • Teignbridge District Council, especially the officers who provided us with maps, information and guidance.

balls2MThe majority of the design, construction and installation work was carried out by TNA volunteers.  This has kept the costs of our ambitious public art project to a minimum.  We would also like to thank TNA members and councillors for their donations that allowed us to pay for some of the materials  used.

Find out more about the origin and meaning of the symbols .

 Press articles : People’s Republic of South Devon, Newton Abbot People or Mid Devon Advertiser.


Our Message

Our aim is to raise awareness about Energy and how it is at the heart of the economic

and environmental challenges facing us today.  In essence we want to:

  • have a better ‘feel’ for the Energy we use;
  • understand how much energy we use, where we use it and its impact;
  • decide if we want to reduce it and by how much.

Getting Energy from renewable sources will help us deal with some of the big challenges we face.  However, it will not in itself solve the problems associated with fossil fuel shortages or associated Climate Change.

The twin challenges of Climate Change and Peak-Oil can only be tackled through Energy

Saving and that means reducing the Energy we use.

Transition Newton Abbot run a number of projects aimed at helping reduce our Energy

use.  One of these, Kingsteignton Transition Together or KTT, brings households together

to look at energy use and setting personal goals to reduce energy consumption.

This project is now available in Newton Abbot and surrounding areas.  It is free for participants.

See our website or contact us if you would like more information on our projects and how you can benefit from our FREE information and service.

The Journey

It all started with a chance encounter in autumn 2009 at one of our street stalls.  We had just found out that we were unsuccessful in securing a government grant to work on a showcase listed building where cost-effective Energy Saving measures could be undertaken.  Overhearing our disappointment was a councillor who offered to help us out with a more modest grant towards this project.  As a spin-off from Newton’s Cradle we wanted to tell others about Energy Saving using Public Art around the town.

It is surprising how long it takes to get from an idea to reality, especially when it comes to Public Art.  Getting the initial concept and miniature mock-up was quick, as was getting the buy-in from the Town Council.

Next step was sourcing the materials as sustainably (and cheaply) as possible.  Given the size and number of the sculptures, it was always going to be difficult to get the wood.  We started by asking Teignbridge’s Tree Officer for help in finding a light-weight substantial tree trunk.  We knew this project was meant to be, when a week later we were told that a 150 year old cedar needed to be taken down.

Now we had to work out a way to design something large yet manageable.  We wanted the sculptures to be seen by as many people as possible when they arrive in town.  We also had to consider reasonable access to the information and message behind the art work.  It was no mean feat to make and install such a large and striking sculpture using a tiny budget.

Starting with a one foot long model to get the proportions right, was a lot of fun in the warm workshop.  Then came the ten-fold scaling-up and dealing with knotty wood, wind and other practical problems.  Most of that was of course done outside, sometimes in the cold, but always with lots of TNA volunteers.  It wasn’t always hard work as you can see from the two playing with the tractor!

Where possible we did our best to source materials and work locally.  Apart from the perspex balls we had hoped to make in glass, we managed to do this.  These needed careful drilling for which a special jig had to be made.

There is no public project without the paperwork.  Planning, Highways, Legal and land owners are only some of the many people we had to get permissions from and consult.  As things turned out they were also the people who helped us with useful advice and support.  The process was not without time and bureaucratic frustrations, but necessary to ensure everyone is on-board and public safety is not compromised.  Persistence was essential!

We could not afford to pay someone to install the sculptures, so we decided to train some of our team of 15 volunteer installers.  Luckily we got the support of several people prepared to do a practice installation and then the real one late at night.  Volunteers, materials, procedures and deliveries all had to be exactly listed and scheduled.  Risk assessments, notifying neighbours and police, CAT scanning for utilities, organising transport all had to be organised and volunteered.  We have tried to list all those who helped directly with the project, but probably missed a few for which we apologise.

Golden Lion SquareGLS sculpture installationTNA sculpture in GLS

The last piece of our energy sculpture jigsaw was finally installed in the newly re-developed Golden Lion Square in the centre of Newton Abbot in April 2016, complete with Info-Box and laminated info sheets. This final sculpture pulls together the other five around the outskirts of town and provides the public with information about their purpose.

The journey started in 2009 and finished in 2016. Please enjoy the fruits of our labour and join us in thinking about ENERGY, this precious commodity. Together we can save energy and generate renewable energy see the Teign Energy Communities (TECs) website for more details on this local community energy initiative.

milestone or tombstone- jane and helen

Materials and Symbols

upLadder1MEach sculpture measures 500 X 3000 X 65mm and is made of:

  • Cedar from a local tree that had to come down after 150 happy years.
  • Steel bases perfectly made by a local blacksmith Rob Hills at Seale-Hayne.
  • Other materials used are acrylic spheres & paint, concrete and steel bolts.

The symbols you see on the sculptures represent five sources of Renewable Energy.  Click on the symbol for more info.

The symbols are based on 35,000 year old cave paintings.

The first and most important symbol represents:


Energy Saving

Our problems with energy supply can best be dealt with if we use less energy.  Some energy saving measures are cheap and easy, others require some investment but pay for themselves quickly.  The TNA website has some suggestions and information under the Energy tab.

Wind Energy

Wind power has long been used by windmills to grind corn and pump water, today it is also used by wind turbines to generate electricity.  Power from the wind is renewable, but is not continuous.  Energy storage schemes can be used to smooth out some of the variations in wind energy supply.

Water Energy

Water wheels are a familiar source of mechanical energy for many different applications, and hydroelectric generation is widely used.  Pumping water uphill to replenish dams is a way of storing excess energy from other sources.  Tidal and wave power generation offer further renewable energy options.

Solar Energy

The energy received by the earth from the sun in a year is vastly more than we need, but at present we do not make great use of it.  Solar PV panels and solar water heating are excellent sources of renewable energy, but need to be combined with energy storage to have greater impact on the energy supply problem.

Earth Energy

Thermal springs were used by our distant ancestors for heating. There are not enough thermal springs in most parts of the world to make a significant contribution to energy needs.  Fortunately heat can be extracted from the ground in useful amounts everywhere using simple heat pumps at shallow depths.  Heat can also be extracted in large quantities from hot rocks deeper within the earth.

Biomass Energy

Wood fires have kept humans warm for most of our history, however, wood is only one form of renewable vegetable matter from which we can get energy.  Other crops can be used to produce renewable alternatives to oil-based fuel. There are also many different forms of energy we can extract from biomass.  Anaerobic digestion is a method of generating energy from waste organic matter.


This has been a truly joint effort.  In the course of the project many people have been involved in a voluntary capacity:

Betina Winkler; Chris Hayter; David Metcalf; David Suckley; Ellen Koende; Fuad Al-Tawil; Helen Chessum; Henrieke Dimmendaal; Irene Matl; Jackie Brodie; Jacob Metcalfe; Jamie Halse; Jane Baker; Jiri Matl; John Fiske; Marie Yeo; Martyn Yeo; Mary Elkington; Mathias Schuchert; Nicky Rayner; Peter Andrew; Peter Hearnden; Peter Pitts; Phil Rowe; Rob Hills; Ralph Mackridge; Robert Watts; Roy Goble; Simon Daligan; Thomas; Will Baker Morrison, etc.

We’d also like to thank all those who helped in an official capacity in town/district/county councils, businesses and other organisations without whose cooperation and advice this project would not have been possible.