The Concept

Salt Licks is the competition winning entry for a new and unique public art installation designed as a two storey structure of salt blocks facing the North Sea that will weather over time from the effects of the sun, rain and wind-blown sand leaving a mark on the structures with salt both dissolving and recrystallising to create new forms and textures.

The competition, held in 2010, was organised by artsNK on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council as part of the Council’s Structures On The Edge programme of arts regeneration which started in 2004 with artist and architect designed beach huts known as Bathing Beauties.

Structures On The Edge are installations intended to invite engagement and understanding of the beauty of an environment that is both natural and man-made, existing in precarious balance; a coastline that is constantly shifting and eroding requiring constant sand dredging and beach replenishment to protect the sea-defence structures and therefore the flatlands of Lincolnshire which suffered from devastating floods in the 1950s.

As part of the competition brief a number of possible sites were identified and suggested themes developed. Salt Licks was initially designed as a response to the Moggs Eye site with the theme of a climate or weather station from which the changing coastline could be observed. Rather than a structure to house instruments, the purpose of Salt Licks was that it should become the instrument itself.

The design straddled the sea defence wall at the sea gate creating a highly controlled, experiential sequence: a door opening in a white wall between sand dunes, a threshold where the physical depth of the salt walls could be experienced, two walls forming a canyon framing the sky, sea and sand (all the elements impacting on the structure), a staircase allowing the visitor to sink into salt, and finally a look-out platform from where the big skies and endless beaches of the coastline are fully revealed.

Stakeholder engagement with the Environment Agency led to a modified design and preferred location at Huttoft Terrace where a staircase leads the visitor up to a lookout affording both a framed view of the horizon (which is revealed only as the salt within the opening dissolves away) and an onward view of the next structure along the coast, Wind Tower by MSA Gruff.

Salt Licks will be the last of the current tranche of installations to be constructed along this stretch of coastline, completing a necklace of structures from Skegness to Mablethorpe taking in bird hides and cloud-watching bars. For further information visit: www.bathingbeauties.org.uk

The design has been developed through a close collaboration with structural engineers Structure Workshop with materials science input from Dr Andrea Hamilton from the University of Strathclyde. Contract administration and site supervision by K Lee and Co Ltd. Assessment of ecological impacts carried out by Scarborough Nixon Associates.

Salt Licks received planning consent in April 2014.