Top Five Public Sculptures: Eastbourne

The PCF’s Sculpture Collection Researcher, Dr Anthony McIntosh, chooses his top five public sculptures in Eastbourne, East Sussex:

It couldn’t be said that Eastbourne is overflowing with public sculpture, but there are some important pieces in the town.

5. Memorial to John Wesley Woodward – Titanic Memorial, Charles Godfrey Garrard, 1914, 76cm x 145cm, Lower Parade underneath the columns in the bandstand arenaEestbourne 1John Wesley Woodward was born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, but was associated with Eastbourne as a member of the Duke of Devonshire’s band in the town. He was a cello player and in the past had appeared both as a soloist and as a member of several well-known string quartets. He joined the White Star Line around 1909 and was on board the Olympic when she collided with H.M.S. Hawke, narrowly escaping injury as he was in the cabin with three colleagues just where the Hawke struck. Woodward died in the sinking of the Titanic during its maiden voyage on 15 April 1912, along with all the other ship’s musicians. The bronze and granite memorial was unveiled by the opera singer, Clara Butt.

This is an interesting curiosity in the town and it was restored in 2012 in time for the centenary of the disaster. The only unfortunate aspect is that it is not visible unless you enter the bandstand colonnades.

4. Eighteen Thousand Tides, David Nash, 1996, Manor Gardens, Borough LaneEastbourne 2David Nash was invited by the Towner Art Gallery to create a new outdoor sculpture in Manor Gardens. As the only durable wood for exterior sculpture is oak, he was shown oak trees that were damaged and due to be cut down, and the groynes at Eastbourne seafront which were to be replaced. He envisioned a group of oak buttresses, “standing vertically in a circle, creating a ‘place’, unusual and intriguing as an image and as a place to enter, majestic and quiet and contemplative”. It was the first time that Nash had worked with sea weathered timber. Nash says, “The timbers in this sculpture have been formed by the relentless breathing of tides, the sea pressing against Eastbourne over twenty-five years, eighteen thousand breaths. The living oak, before being a buttress, wove the elements of mineral, water, air and light to form its physical body; when no longer a tree the wood retains an echo of those elemental forces and through water erosion their image is magnified, each buttress becoming unique.” The buttresses measure between 2.5 and 4 metres in height.

I have visited this piece many times and the wonderful thing about it I find is the changing colours of the wood depending on the season and the weather – there is always something new to appreciate about the work.

3. War Memorial, Henry Charles Fehr, 1920, 488cm high, junction of Devonshire Place and Trinity TreesEastbourne 3The memorial was unveiled by General Lord Horne, G.C.B., K.C.M.G., the well-known commander of the First Army. As there were 1,065 names of the Fallen from Eastbourne, it was decided to erect sixteen oak panels in the Town Hall on which they would be carved rather than the original proposal to carve the names on the plinth. The bronze statue representing the ‘Angel of Victory’ is particularly striking.

2. Royal Sussex Memorial, William Goscombe John, 1906, approx. 5.5m high, junction of Elms Avenue and Cavendish Place, opposite the PierEastbourne 4The statue was unveiled by the Duke of Norfolk, Lord Lietenant of Sussex and a Major of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Battalion, in the presence of a Guard of Honour of the Royal Sussex Regiment. The figure is depicted in the uniform of the Bengal Regiment, one of the old regiments of the East India Company. When the East India Company came to an end the regiment was taken over by the Government and became the 107th regiment which in turn became the 2nd. Battalion. The monument is listed Grade II*.

Being on the seafront, I pass this monument so many times, but am always slightly amused by the figure’s somewhat ‘jaunty’ pose!

1. Statue of 7th Duke of Devonshire, Edward Alfred Briscoe Drury, 1910, approx. 5.5m high, King Edwards ParadeEastbourne 5The Dukes of Devonshire created much of Eastbourne’s modern town and its elegant and iconic seafront. William Cavendish, 7th Duke from 1858, inherited a large estate there in 1834 and appointed Decimus Burton, the renowned architect, to draw up plans for building homes. Burton, however, was more interested in carrying out his outstanding work a little further east at St Leonards. He resigned after producing just one church in Eastbourne. The Duke subsequently appointed the less well known James Berry to produce plans for the seafront. Work began on large houses and a promenade before Berry fell out of favour and was replaced by Henry Currey, who remained in post until the 7th Duke died in 1891. There is a seated statue of the 7th Duke by William Goscombe John on the seafront at the junction of Cavendish Place.

This Grade II bronze statue is of Spencer Compton, 8th Duke of Devonshire and was erected on the Western Lawns two years after the Duke’s death. It was unveiled by the Duke of Norfolk. The 8th Duke of Devonshire was Mayor of Eastbourne between 1897 and 1898. The statue portrays him in the robes of a Chancellor of Cambridge University and is rich with detail including the pince-nez held in his right hand – this was his habit when addressing a public assembly.

Interestingly the sculptor, Alfred Drury, is the grandfather of Jolyon Drury, a trustee of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association.

Find out more about the public monuments and sculpture of Sussex at: http://www.publicsculpturesofsussex.co.uk/

There is also a book of the Sussex public monuments and sculpture, published by Liverpool University Press: http://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/products/60804

Advertisements

Top Five Public Sculptures: Stoke-on-Trent

Just choosing five favourite public sculptures in Stoke-on-Trent barely scratches the surface of the public art and monuments spread across the City. Walk or drive around any of the six towns and you’ll encounter both traditional and contemporary sculptures. New works seem to appear regularly.

The latest addition to the city is Golden, a 21ft-high, steel artwork covered in 1,500 glass balls and internally lit by LED lights. Taller than the Angel of the North, it will be seen for miles around. It was installed in May 2015, but its official opening and switching-on ceremony will take place this summer. I’ll wait to see it all lit up before I decide whether it makes it into my top five.

This is very much a personal top five list. If there are other public sculptures in Stoke-on-Trent that you particularly like, feel free to let us know what they are and why you like them.

Privilege_DenisOConnor_Stoke5. Privilege, Denis O’Connor, 2005, Cavour Street and Etruria Old Road

This 9m-high, stainless steel sculpture represents the pottery and steel industries, which used to flourish in Etruria before their demise, and the National Garden Festival, which was held in the area in 1986. Sited by the busy A53, the work is seen by an estimated 30,000 motorists each day. I see it on a regular basis from the car, but have only walked up to it once, to take this photograph on one of the wettest days I’ve ever experienced. Even in a hail storm it looked very impressive.2015-06-03 12.51.19 HDR-1Award-winning sculptor Denis O’Connor has another large public art work in the City, Tree Stories (above), which was created with community involvement to celebrate the local mining industry. Sited in Hanley, this work has also been placed next to a busy road and is seen by thousands of people every day.

Woropay_6_15Jan154. Hand with Chronos, Vincent Woropay, 1990, Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station

I have written about this sculpture before, as its current location does not do it justice, being sited at the far end of platform 2 at Stoke Railway Station where few people venture. If you make the effort to look at it close up, rather than from a moving train, you can see the fingerprints and lines on the hand, as well as the chronos in its palm.

Wedgwood 23. Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795), Edward Davis, 1863, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent

Probably the best known of the Staffordshire potters (from being good at marketing, as well as his ceramic-making skills), Josiah Wedgwood greets visitors as they leave Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station. He is seen holding his ceramic copy of the Portland Vase, the 1st-century Roman glass vase in the British Museum.2015-05-27 09.32.57 HDR-1Another, more contemporary sculpture of Wedgwood (above), by Vincent Woropay, was created in 1986 for the National Garden Festival. This brick head was in storage for many years before being repositioned in 2009. It is now sited by Etruria Hall, previously the home of Josiah Wedgwood and close to the location of his 1769 pottery factory. Etruria Hall, which can be seen in the background, is now part of a hotel.

A Man Can't Fly_42. A Man Can’t Fly, Ondre Nowakowski, 1989, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent

Sited next to a busy road junction in the City’s University Quarter and close to the railway line, this figure standing on one leg and trying to fly is apparently there to remind us that that ‘we are in too much of a rush to do too much for most of the time’. I pass it on the way to the station, usually whilst worrying if I’ll find a space in the car park, so it’s a message I probably should take on board.A Man Can't Fly_5Ondre Nowakowski works as a full-time freelance artist, has exhibited widely and has works held in public collections, including numerous large scale public art works in the UK.

Her Head_DhruvaMistry_Stoke1. Her Head, Dhruva Mistry, 1986, Gilman Place, Old Hall Street, Hanley

Most of the buildings around Gilman Place are boarded up in advance of development of the area, so this beautiful sculpture’s surroundings do not currently do it justice. This might have been a busier thoroughfare when the work was placed here in 1988, but I do wonder how many people see it. It’s not easily seen by car either, as its back faces the busy city centre ring road.

Dhruva Mistry was born in 1957 in Gujarat, India, and has art works held in major public collections in the UK, India and Japan.'Her_Head'_by_Dhruva_Mistry,_Harris_MuseumThe Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, owns another version of Her Head (above), this one in plaster and shellac. You can also see an oil painting by Mistry on Your Paintings.

 

Further information on Stoke-on-Trent’s public sculpture:

Stoke-on-Trent Sculpture Trail

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association has produced a book on Staffordshire and the Black Country in their Public Sculpture of Britain series, published by Liverpool University Press.

All images by Katey Goodwin, apart from the image of Her Head at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston: by Rept0n1x (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Top Five Public Sculptures: Birmingham

Work on the Your Sculpture project has been taking us around the UK in recent weeks and wherever we go, we keep an eye out for public sculptures to photograph and share on our Instagram account (@yoursculpture).

I had the opportunity to explore Birmingham last week and was struck by the extent and variety of public art in the city centre. Sculptures range from traditional statues of national heroes, such as Queen Victoria and Lord Nelson, to contemporary works by Antony Gormley, Gillian Wearing and Dhruva Mistry.

This is very much a personal top five. If there are other public sculptures in Birmingham that you particularly like, do let us know what they are and why you like them.

A Real Birmingham Family5. A Real Birmingham Family, Gillian Wearing, 2014, Centenary Square

The result of Ikon Gallery’s four-year project to find a ‘real’ Birmingham family to be immortalised in a sculpture, this work was created by Gillian Wearing, a Birmingham-born, Turner Prize-winning artist. Hundreds of families applied to take part in the project before a shortlist of four was selected by a diverse panel of community, cultural and religious figures. From this shortlist, the chosen family was Roma and Emma Jones, sisters and single parents, and their two sons Kyan and Shaye.

The sculpture has provoked some debate and controversy since its unveiling, being targeted by Fathers for Justice campaigners and criticised as a betrayal of traditional family values. Defenders have stated that the work represents Birmingham’s cultural diversity and challenges the notion of what constitutes a ‘real family’ in Britain today.

“I really liked how Roma and Emma Jones spoke of their closeness as sisters and how they supported each other. It seemed a very strong bond, one of friendship and family, and the sculpture puts across that connectedness between them. A nuclear family is one reality but it is one of many and this work celebrates the idea that what constitutes a family should not be fixed.” Gillian Wearing

Find out more about the project and the sculpture here.

Tony Hancock_Birmingham4. Tony Hancock, Bruce Williams, 1996, Old Square

The comedian and actor Tony Hancock was born in the Hall Green area of Birmingham in 1924. He is best known for his BBC series Hancock’s Half Hour, which ran first on radio from 1954, then on television from 1956. He died in 1968, aged 44.

Bruce Williams’ memorial was unveiled by Sir Harry Secombe on 13 May 1996. Originally intended to be placed on New Street, it was temporarily placed on the Corporation Street edge of Old Square, which at that time was opposite a Blood Donor Clinic, the subject of Hancock’s well-known sketch. The statue was later relocated to the centre of Old Square, where it remains.

War Memorial_Birmingham3. Statues on the Hall of Memory, Albert Toft, 1925, Centenary Square

The Hall of Memory is a war memorial commemorating the 12,320 Birmingham citizens who died in the First Word War. The building was designed by S. N. Cooke and W. N. Twist, and built between 1923 and 1925 by John Barnsley and Son.

The four statues around the exterior, by local artist Albert Toft, represent the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and Women’s Services. On the day I visited, the Women’s Services statue had been ‘flower-bombed’ by members of the Women’s Institute in response to the defacement of the Women’s War Memorial in Whitehall on Saturday 9 May 2015, by anti-Tory protestors. Read more about the flower-bombing here.

The Bull_Birmingham2. The Bull, Laurence Broderick, 2003, Bullring Shopping Centre

One of the largest bronze animal sculptures in the UK, this 2.2-metre (7ft 3in) tall running, turning bull stands at the main entrance to the Bullring’s west building.

The Bull is a popular spot for people to have their picture taken and on the day I visited, I had to wait a few minutes to be able to take a photograph. It’s a very tactile sculpture and visitors, especially children, seem keen to touch it and climb all over it. As I waited to take my photo, a mother held her young child up to The Bull’s face so he could kiss its nose!

Find out more about the sculpture and how it was made here.

The River_Birmingham1. The River, Dhruva Mistry, 1994, Victoria Square

The redevelopment of Victoria Square, from a busy road junction to a pedestrianised, public focal point, was started in 1992 and completed in 1994. An international design competition was held for a central water feature in the square, which was won by Dhruva Mistry. Four sculptures by Mistry are sited around the square: The River, Guardians, Youth and Object [Variations].

The River, a monumental female figure, representing the life force, sits in the upper pool in the square. Nicknamed ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’, it is also a fountain, one of the largest in Europe, with a flow of 3,000 gallons per minute.

The following words, from the poem ‘Burnt Norton’ by T. S. Eliot, are engraved in the rim of the upper pool:

‘And the pool was filled with water of sunlight, And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly, The surface glittered out of heart of light, And they were behind us, reflected in the pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.’

The water from the upper pool flows into a lower pool, in which is another of Mistry’s sculptures, Youth. On either side of the fountain are two large stone sculptures known as the Guardians (image below). On either side of these sculptures are two obelisk-shaped sculptures, Object (Variations), which act as lampstands in the square.Guardian_Birmingham

Further information on Birmingham’s public sculpture:

Birmingham City Council

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association has produced two books on Birmingham in their Public Sculpture of Britain series, published by Liverpool University Press:

Public Sculpture of Birmingham by George T. Noszlopy, 1998

Birmingham Sculpture Trails by George T. Noszlopy and Fiona Waterhouse, 2007

Introducing our Sculpture Collection Researcher

The Public Catalogue Foundation recently advertised for a Sculpture Collection Researcher for the Development Phase of the Your Sculpture project. After an intensive recruitment process, we are delighted to announce that the successful candidate is Dr Anthony McIntosh. Anthony’s role, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will be to survey the UK’s public organisations to gain an understanding of the nature and extent of their sculpture collections. He will also research the location of public monuments and sculpture around the UK.

Here, Anthony introduces himself and tells us about his interest in sculpture:

“I have recently been appointed as the Sculpture Collections Researcher for the Your Sculpture project. As a development of the superb Your Paintings website, it is a really exciting initiative and I am equally excited to be part of this early development stage.

Since finishing my PhD at the beginning of 2014, I have been working as a freelance researcher and lecturer. I have done work for a diverse range of clients that include Professor Mark Stocker of the Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, NZ, and a company in Hastings who are engaged in creating several installations in Dover to commemorate the centenary of the Great War. I am currently carrying out research work for Ann Compton, who was Project Director for the wonderful Mapping Sculpture online database. Ann is currently writing a book about the makers and methods of sculpture in Britain between 1851 and 1940. In addition to working as a researcher, I occasionally give lectures at the University of Brighton on the use of oral history as a research tool.

Although I love to look at new public sculpture, ironically I am often drawn more to those pieces that have disappeared, or that are being grossly neglected. I am fascinated by the lost biographies of sculpture that once graced our streets and parks. I have an article in the forthcoming issue of the Sculpture Journal that discusses a statue of Captain William Pechell (below), a hero of the Crimean War. Matthew Noble_1I discovered the statue in 2007 slowly disintegrating in undergrowth in Brighton’s Stanmer Park. This statue by Matthew Noble once dominated the vestibule of the Royal Pavilion, but is now a sad example of what can happen to important pieces of commemorative sculpture once the generation who erected it have gone. Matthew Noble_2I have recently been digitising the Captain’s letters home from the Crimea for the Somerset family in Worthing.

Before I started my PhD, I was the Research Officer for the Sussex Recording Project, a collaborative project between the University of Brighton and the PMSA that aimed to detail all of the public monuments and sculpture in Sussex. You can find the database online at: www.publicsculpturesofsussex.co.uk. I still occasionally add new objects to the database at the request of the sculptor. During that project I discovered many fascinating stories of ‘lost’ objects. Not many people, for instance, would know that the allegorical group of statues surmounted by Queen Anne at the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral is a copy (below, first image), and that the original is eroding away behind The Ridge in Hastings (below, second image). Queen Anne_1

Queen Anne_2The detective work involved in revealing these lost and neglected pieces is often fraught with difficulty, but ultimately really rewarding when their present or past existence can be brought to the public’s attention.

After the Sussex project ended I worked as the Administrator for the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA) in London, until I received a full Arts and Humanities Research Council grant to continue with my PhD studies full time. The work that the PMSA continues to do on the National Recording Project is integral to the discovery of many such objects and I would like to pay tribute to the individuals all over the country who have worked tirelessly to record, and where possible photograph, our sculptural heritage. Very often they are receiving no financial or other institutional support but are carrying out this work fuelled only by a passion for sculpture and a determination to document this aspect of the nation’s heritage for posterity – usually resulting in the publication of another superb volume in the Liverpool University Press Public Sculpture of Britain series. Our own Sussex volume was published in November 2014.

My PhD focused on two case studies – both public monuments that have been moved or demolished. One of them, the Prince Albert Memorial Clock Tower in Hastings, is probably talked about as much now by the people of the town as it was before it was demolished in 1973 (see below).HastingsMy PhD explored the way in which public monuments can become so central to community life that they come to represent the identity of particular towns and cities and of the people who live there. They become places embodied with meaning and sites rich with individual and collective memory. My study also revealed the importance of large central monuments to a range of community events such as carnivals, Whit walks and other ad hoc celebrations, such as those at Christmas and New Year. I am also very interested in objects associated with parades and processions such as banners, particular forms of dress (both of these often homemade) and in rituals such as ‘marking the bounds’.

Amongst the many things that my previous roles and my PhD studies revealed, one of the most important, I think, is that the monuments and public sculpture that local communities embrace and become emotionally and passionately engaged with are not always those that academics and experts feel are ‘worthy’ of study or conservation. That fact alone has frequently made me think about what the word public really means in the term public sculpture. I recently visited Seaham in County Durham on the way back from the Borders in order to look at a new sculpture titled ‘1101’.Tommy_2The sculpture by local artist Ray Lonsdale, and named ‘Tommy’ by locals had been placed on the seafront temporarily, but had become so loved by the local community that they raised the £85,000 necessary to purchase it and it will now stay onsite permanently. I viewed the work for approximately two hours and during that time there was a constant stream of people of all ages arriving to look at the piece; families, individuals, young people, disabled people. It has clearly become part of the fabric of the community there and is already functioning as a spatial and temporal location for the creation of public memory. I remember thinking that what I was witnessing was the real meaning of the phrase public sculpture.

The Your Sculpture project is in its infancy but will, without doubt, become the most important initiative to date in ensuring that our rich sculptural heritage is documented and the data made easily accessible online to everyone. I am delighted to be a part of that undertaking.”

If you would like to contact Anthony about the project, please email: Anthony.McIntosh@thepcf.org.uk