A COMMUNITY cafe volunteer who wants to study art at university has produced a series of hand sculptures to represent Whitegate’s past, present and future.

Weaverham resident Barbara Simpson is in the second year of her art course at Warrington and Vale Royal College, and she has volunteered Whitegate Station Cafe, in Clay Lane, each Tuesday morning for the past two years.

The 62-year-old produced a sculpture reflecting the changing use of the former railway station, which is now home to the not-for-profit cafe.

“The hands are life sized casts of students from the college, and they have been embellished and glazed in a variety of ways to tell Whitegate Station’s story,” she told the Guardian.

“Some hands have been Raku fired, which gives them a rich burnished glazed. This represents the richness of the goods carried by the line, which was initially produce from the fields, then salt mined from under the fields.

“Other hands have been smoked fired for the steam trains that used to ply this line and the men who would have stoked the fires, and others have impressed leaves gathered along Whitegate Way, representing the time when the Cheshire Rangers had their offices in Whitegate Station.

“And then there are hands impressed with the names of the volunteers, some darker to show the hard graft in the past and the effort it took to get the building and grounds into good order, others are lighter and bluer to show the cleaner working environment of the cafe.”

Barbara previously worked at Barclays in Radbrook before being made redundant a decade ago.

After first attending night classes, she wanted to develop her art skills further – and is now completing her UCAS application to attend university as a mature student.

Barbara said: “I wanted to know how to throw a clay pot. I’ve always been interested in art but I hadn’t done anything this serious.

“I’ve had the time to do my course, the time to get things right and the time to get things wrong and try again.

“I never thought I would go to university, I just wanted to learn different techniques, but here I am now completing my application forms. It all seems very strange.”

Barbara produced designs for her sculpture after honing her skills at college, before she was given the backing of her tutors and Whitegate Station Cafe.

She added: “I would not have been able to accomplish this piece of work without the expertise of the tutors and the fantastic facilities in Hartford. Also thanks to the Whitegate Station Cafe for giving me this opportunity to showcase my work.”