Friday, July 5, 2013

A new sculptural feature for Brunswick Quay?

Flicking through the planning applications in Southwark News today I came across this rather interesting planning proposal for Brunswick Quay (overlooking Greenland Dock).  REF 13/AP/1944 describes the proposed installation of a "portrait bench" with three life-sized figures made of caten steel arranged around a timber bench and set within an existing paved area, near to a Grade II listed capstan.  I've looked at the Southwark Council planning pages and there is no indication of who the sculptor is and there are no artist impressions of what it might look like, although presumably it will be something to do with local history (although that may be an assumption too far).

Laura Ford's "Nature Girls,"
stolen in 2008
I am all for new features that make the area look cared for and happily lived in, and although I haven't found an impression of what it will look like if built, the portrait bench seems like a nice idea, particularly if its theme is relevant to the area.

My only concern, and I really hate to chuck cold water all over something positive before I've even seen a picture, is that it may eventually be targeted by thieves.  The "Nature Girls" sculpture by Laura Ford at Surrey Basin (or Surrey Water) was stolen in 2008, sawed off at the ankles leaving just the red shoes, as was the much-loved sculpture of Alfred Salter near the Angel pub (stolen in 2011, photo here on the website) and the owl from the set of farmyard animals and fox on the Thames Path (the survivors of which had to be removed to within the Surrey Docks Farm premises to keep them safe).  It is thought that they were probably stolen for their scrap value, which is so sad.  Having said that, the Michael Rizzello sculptures of James Walker, overlooking Greenland Dock, and the dock layout in the 1800s at the top of Stave Hill, as well as the pilgrim sculpture near The Mayflower, have all survived.

It's a rather gloomy dilemma. Either one fails to keep introducing innovative features into the area in fear that they might be ruined; or one takes the risk.  On balance, I'm very much in favour of staying optimistic.  I can't figure out exactly where it will be located, but hopefully it will be in sight of local homes so that residents can keep an eye on it.  At the moment no-one has contested the planning proposal so hopefully it will go ahead.

I've emailed the Southwark planning officer to whom the proposal is assigned, Terence McLellan, and hopefully he may be able to rustle up an image of how it will look.


Kake said...

Maybe it will look similar to the one that recently got installed in Croydon — here's a photo of that.

Andie said...

That certainly matches the description. Not sure that I like it very much, but these things are always so personal. Many thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

The twins of the "Nature Girls" can still be found in Ottawa: see Street View

Andie said...

Thanks Anonymous. Nice to see that the Ottowa ones are still standing! There's a good photo of them here too: