You are here

Sitting With Jane

The Ark Conference Centre Is Proud To Be Sitting With Jane.

THE Ark Conference Centre is proud to be taking part in the high-profile Sitting With Jane project – and its key role will be a real show of ‘Girl Power’.

Sitting With Jane will be among the highlights in Hampshire as the county hosts a series of events and activities to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of the world-famous author, who spent the first 25 years of her life in Steventon near Basingstoke.

A ‘Wild in Art’ event, being delivered by Destination Basingstoke and in association with Festival Place, Sitting With Jane is a public art trail featuring 24 specially-designed sponsored bookbenches which will be on display during the summer.

The bookbenches will eventually be auctioned off in September, and 75 per cent of the proceeds will go to Ark Cancer Centre Charity – leaving a lasting legacy that will help and support local cancer patients and their families.

The Ark Conference Centre, in Dinwoodie Drive, Basingstoke, is one of the bookbench sponsors – and its bookbench is now being created by artist David Graham.

Sandra Fell, chairman of The Ark Conference Centre, said she and the team were delighted to select David’s ‘Girl Power’ design for the bookbench at a showcase of all the designs at Oakley Hall in January.

“We had no hesitation in choosing this stand-out design,” said Sandra. “Bright, topical, and eye-catching, we feel that David’s bookbench design really captures the spirit of Jane Austen.

“It is a colourful and creative work of art that links the Austen of the past with the woman of today, and we are looking forward to it being unveiled to the public outside the conference centre on Saturday, June 17.”

David, who is head of creative arts at a girls’ school in Liverpool, said: “I am looking forward to bringing the ‘Girl Power’ bookbench design to life, and am delighted that it will take pride of place at The Ark Conference Centre when the public art trail is unveiled.

“The Sitting With Jane project particularly appealed to me as I was keen to celebrate the English heritage associated with Jane Austen as well as the strong qualities of her female characters.

“I hope that my ‘Girl Power’ bookbench will really catch the eye. The bright design is designed to show that Jane Austen is fun and her characters are colourful.”

The bookbench trail – which takes in locations in and around Basingstoke and will also feature bookbenches in Alton, Chawton and Winchester – will be open to the public between June 17 and August 31.

The Ark Conference Centre will then be the centre of attention when the bookbenches will be sold at the Sitting With Jane auction that will take place at the venue on the evening of Friday, September 15. Most of the proceeds will go to Ark Cancer Centre Charity, which is raising £5million towards a unique local cancer treatment centre in the Basingstoke area.

To find out more about the Sitting With Jane project, go to