A Tour of Public Sculpture in West Sussex: From metal penguins to ancient tombs 

Saturday 23 April 2015:  Review by Alison Minns

The current lecture programme opened last October with a talk by Peter and Jill Seddon based on their book, co-authored with Anthony McIntosh, The Public Sculpture of Sussex (Liverpool University Press, 2014). This was followed up with a tour to see some of the sculptures first hand. Alison Minns writes:  

Trustee David Robson masterminded a fascinating coach trip for Regency Society members to look at public sculptures in Sussex. The day built on ex-University of Brighton husband and wife team Peter and Jill Seddon’s lecture to Society members last October and offered a chance to see in the flesh – or rather, in bronze, concrete , wood, marble and granite a selection of the sculptures mentioned in their excellent recent book.

Our stops encompassed civic, commercial, beach and seafront, hospital and religious sculptures. We took in monuments and sculptures in Brighton and Hove, Ropetackle in Shoreham, an installation on Worthing beach to highlight issues of water conservation, a parade of metal penguins ‘enhanced’ with woolly appendages and appurtenances knitted by a charity that creates special seasonal outfits for the penguins to cheer up hospital patients, rather less frivolous tombs and monuments in Chichester Cathedral and monolithic installations at the wonderfully sited Goodwood Sculpture Park where we had a chilly picnic lunch amid bluebells. It was here that David Robson was overheard to say, ‘The thing I liked best turned out to be a lawnmower’.

Some of us wondered why we made the return journey via the dreary Horsham shopping centre but all was revealed when we were shown Angela Conner’s large sphere entitled Cosmic Cycle (The Rising Universe). It’s an understatement to say that very few of us liked it but that’s hardly surprising since the fountain is neglected and no longer functioning. It seems out of scale with its surroundings and the surrounding planters are filled with cigarette butts. There was one aficionado amongst our group, however. Peter Seddon is a member of the campaign to save it before it is permanently removed by the Council.

Being shown this particular sculpture in such a sorry state brought home to us the importance of initial and ongoing civic or private sponsorship and support. We were made aware of the necessary commitment and not inconsiderable costs of upkeep, especially of sculptures that employ complicated technology to function. Fingers crossed that the installations on the proposed Hove Sculpture Plinth on the seafront (an initiative of Hove Civic Society funded by public and private donations) will be well cared for and maintained, and if controversial that the sculptures will, at least, be taken into local citizens’ hearts and treasured.

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