Fringe Box



Citizens Speak – Public Art, Sculptures and Statues

Published on: 13 Mar, 2012
Updated on: 13 Mar, 2012

With feelings still running high over the proposed ‘bonfire sculpture’ that, if planning permission is granted, will be sited on the roundabout in Woodbridge Road, near the police station and law courts, we asked people their views on the sculpture and public art in general around Guildford…

Amy Taylor, who lives in Woking, but works in Guildford and Godalming.
I certainly take notice of statues and sculptures in the area, but I prefer modern works of art. The more there are the better. They add to the quality of the town and become good talking points. I quite like the design for the ‘bonfire sculpture’. It is interesting and original. I like the chair on top. It will make people talk about it. The key thing is, it should be able to communicate what happened in the Guildford Guy Riots back in the 19th century. You can’t ignore history, these things have to be explained. I think there might be an issue as it would be sited on a busy road junction and that there might be some problems with anti-social behaviour. People might climb on it, so that would be dangerous.
John and Bridget Salter, who live in Guildford
We are aware of public art in the town, but perhaps some it not so obvious to us as it should be. We like traditional as well as modern designs, but not so sure about the ‘bonfire sculpture’. It looks like a lobster pot (Bridget). I don’t think it makes its subject very clear (John). But if it makes people talk about that aspect of he town’s history, that’s good. (Bridget). The siting of it is probably okay, you can see through it, so it should not be a hindrance to motorists.
Carol Brown, lives and works in Guildford.
I do take notice of public art in Guildford, my favourite statue is the one of Alan Turing at the University of Surrey and I like the ‘Surrey Scholar’ statue in the High Street. There is a lot of movement in the scholar. I don’t have any preference over traditional or modern designs. If it grabs my attention, then that’s good. I don’t like the design of the ‘bonfire sculpture’. It doesn’t say ‘bonfire’ to me, more ‘crinoline dress’. I don’t have a problem with it addressing the issue of the Guy Riots – they are part of the town’s history. I think the site for it is a good one, but perhaps it is too big. Overall, I’d like to see something that’s more important of Guildford’s history there. Perhaps something that incorporates a wool-sack – to remind people of the town’s early wealth due to the local wool trade. Or a piece of art that is linked to the history of the Wey Navigation, as the site is not far from Dapdune Wharf on the river.
Mary Alexander, from Guildford.
I am aware of Guildford’s statue and sculptures yes. My favourite is the statues of the sheep just off the Upper High Street, in Eastgate Court, but I think the ‘Surrey scholar’ is hideous! Our University students have never dressed that way it is just whimsy! Overall, I prefer traditional statues to modern ones. I can’t see what the design of the ‘bonfire sculpture’ is meant to be, and I do not think the Guy Riots need to be commemorated or recognised in this way, as they were only a tiny part of Guildford’s history. I do not think the roundabout is a good place for a piece of public art, particularly given the size of the design. It might be hazardous.
Monica Insoll from Guildford
I am aware of public art in the town. I think there is a good mix – but I prefer more modern designs. I am not so keen on the Surrey scholar statue. Why did it need to be retro? I don’t think the proposed ‘bonfire sculpture’ glorifies the riots, so the sculpture is a good thing for the town. But after seeing the artist’s impression on how it might look placed on the roundabout, I don’t think it is a good place for it.

What do you think? Why not add your views to the debate answering the same questions asked of our interviewees:

  1. Do you take any notice of public art, sculptures, statues, etc?
  2. Do you prefer modern designs, such as the Surrey Scholar, or more traditional statues such as the one of Archbishop George Abbot?
  3. This is a design (click here to see see article containing images shown to interviewees) for a new piece of public art relating to the Guildford’s Guy Riots. Do you like or dislike it?
  4. It is inspired by what were known as the Guildford Guy Riots during the mid 19th century, where there was a good deal of disturbance here. The sculpture is representing the final outcome of law and order being restored. Do you think an event like this should be commemorated?
  5. It is planned to be sited on the roundabout near the police station and law courts in Woodbridge Road. Are such sites a good place for works of art?

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