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New Design Submitted by Artist of Controversial Bonfire Sculpture

Published on: 30 May, 2013
Updated on: 30 May, 2013

The sculptress whose design for a piece of public art that recalled the 19th-century Guildford Guy (bonfire) Riots and which was refused by planners, has unveiled a new design – this time inspired by information technology and the father of computer science Alan Turing.

Theresa Smith of the London-based public art and design company Mooch has submitted a new design, provisionally titled Monument to IT. The finished sculpture would be made of steel with a glass screen and set on a stone plinth.

A visual of what the design may look like in position in Woodbridge Road, Guildford.

A visual of what the design may look like in position in Woodbridge Road, Guildford.

It replaces her previous design that was rejected by Guildford borough planners in April 2012. Click here to read story. That design featured a bonfire made of steel and was proposed to be sited on the roundabout in Woodbridge Road, near the police station.

Based on the image supplied by Mooch today, the new design could stand on an area of grass near the law courts – just off Woodbridge Road, and near to Onlsow Street / Bedford Road, subject to planning permission.

A piece of public art in this part of Guildford stems from a planning applications section 106 obligation that was attached to the building of computer games firm Electronic Arts’ (EA) headquarters in the town.

This new design has been created in order to offer an installation close to the EA building in Onslow Street.

Of her new design Theresa Smith said: “Guildford is fast gaining a reputation as the UK’s new silicon valley as local employment in the IT industry grows.

“The role of IT here is one of reinvention, of turning around the traditional perception of the town as quiet, old fashioned and reserved to one of a place that attracts and secures companies like EA to settle here, bringing employment and a new dynamic culture that marries the old Guildford with the new international IT-based economy.

She adds that Guildford’s rich heritage of architectural ironwork has become influential in the work. The base of the sculpture pays homage to the scrolled ironwork at the entrance to Abbot’s Hospital in the High Street.

Ms Smith points out that the artwork has both strong and traditional decorative qualities throughout, underlining a message of substance, longevity and sense of place.

She said: “This is a design that will endure and not date in a couple of years, also helping us come to terms with the fact that IT technology is not going to be un-invented, it is here to stay.”

Within the detail is a reference to pioneering computer scientist and World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, whose parents lived in Ennismore Avenue, Guildford. It was his family’s home for several years and he spent time there when not away at boarding school.

Within Ms Smith’s design, overlaid on components representing solar rays are four gold rings directly inspired by the internal components of the “bombes” in the Bletchley Park codebreaking machine used to crack the wartime German Enigma code.

The design also features a binary code on the glass screen within the sculpture. It links the Government posthuoums apology to Alan Turing, issued in 2009, for the appalling treatment he received as a gay man in the mid 2oth century. The binary code is a direct translation of the last line of the statement: “You deserved so much better.”

The previous bonfire sculpture design caused a good deal of debate, with some very much in favour of it, while others made it known that they did not think it was acceptable on a number of grounds. Click here to read another of last year’s stories. To see all our stories on the subjet, key the words ‘bonfire sculpture’ into the search box at the top right-hand side of this website.

What do think of Theresa Smith’s design this time? Does IT and Alan Turing make good and worthy subjects for a piece of public art in Guildford? If have have a comment to make, please leave a reply in the box below. Your full name (not for publication) is required by us, as always.


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Responses to New Design Submitted by Artist of Controversial Bonfire Sculpture

  1. Aubrey Leahy Reply

    June 2, 2013 at 12:55 am

    What an awful mishmash. Looks like the designer took at least ten minutes over it. The top works… sort of. Why oh why the clunky, chunky base and supports? Supposed to celebrate riots and public mayhem, riotous assembly. Why? It should be pit on a bonfire.

    This work is utterly bereft of imagination, storytelling, enhancing the site or advancing the cause of public art within the borough. Nothing about it says iconic, originality, innovation, inspiration or that Guildford is a forward looking town. I would also like to discover how much money has been made available for the artwork. Was it enough to have an open competition?

    Ed: It needs to be pointed out that this new sculpture design is a not inspired by the bonfire riots as the previous design was.

  2. Gordon Bridger Reply

    June 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Congratulations to Teresa Smith for designing a sculpture which reminds us of the the importance of science and technology which has transformed Guildford from a market town into a centre of world excellence in the disciplines in which Allan Turing excelled.

    It is not easy to determine from a photo just what the sculpture will be like and I would hope to see a model in due course. But anything which alerts people to the great achievements of our scientists and the important role they must play in the future is to be welcomed.

    Maybe something could be added, a plaque perhaps, referring to Turin and to highlight the work of so many others scientists working in Guildford?

  3. Aubrey Leahy Reply

    June 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    In reply to Gordon Bridger:

    There is a plaque in the centre that commemorates the injustices heaped upon Alan Turing. But as Ed. points out only the initial design was supposed to mark the bonfire riots. So is the new one in honour of Alan Turing?

    I still think it a mishmash. Perhaps we could get the artist who came up with the brilliant “Victory in a bottle” in Trafalgar Square recently to submit something. Something as unique as the Guildhall clock. Still an outstanding and original symbol of Guildford after 330 years. I say, thinking caps back on!

    p.s.” Yinko Shonibare. HMS Victory.” Worth a google if unfamiliar.

  4. Gordon Bridger Reply

    June 4, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I agree that the sculpture is not all that easy to interpret but the intention of highlighting Guildford as town with a science built future is to be welcomed.

    I would like to see a reference to the many Guildford satellites which encircle the earth, 34 I believe, but have to confess I am not sure how this could be one

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