They stand like above ground archaeology, unexplained, unloved and largely ignored, perhaps surprising the passer-by, yet mysterious and brooding in the landscape.
Swindon has dozens of public sculptures dotted around the town, commissioned by Thamesdown Borough Council in the late 1980s and early 1990s and paid for by grants or developer contributions under the Percent for Art public art scheme.
A few have been looked after, such as Diana Dors at Shaw Ridge Leisure Park or Applause at the Art Centre, a few have been refurbished like the Great Blondinis, resited from Wharf Green to a Ferndale play park.
Many have been left to rot and only receive attention when absolutely necessary, such as The Watchers at Toothill centre which was relocated but remains vandalised.
Swindon has an impressive collection of public sculptures. They are an important and unique feature of the town’s cultural make-up and need to be recognised.
SwindonLink is calling for Swindon Council to review its sculptures, interpret them for the public and find ways to repair the pieces in poor condition and look after them in the future.
Sculpture in West Swindon, from the top of the collage on the right:
White Horse Pacified (Julie Livesy, 1987): This imposing concrete and metal structure towers above its playground home and is an interpretation of the famous chalk white horses surrounding Swindon. Sadly, however, it has been overrun by lichen and graffiti. It’s situated opposite the junction between Worlidge Drive and Cartwright Drive.
Looking to the Future (John Buck, 1985): West Swindon Centre, opposite the entrance to Asda and Ashington House Surgery. This haunting glass fibre work, depicting three bathers at rest beside the lake, has been ravaged by the elements and vandals alike, but remains a memorable testament to the artist’s vision.
How The Mighty Fall (Tim Sandys-Renton, 1989). Situated on Shaw Ridge close to Shaw Ridge Primary School, overlooking Ramleaze, this powerful sculpture in cast aluminium and cast iron is a gripping comment on the modern industrial age.
Nexus (Hideo Furuta, 1986). The Japanese sculptor spent two months on site at Freshbrook Village Centre hand carving huge blocks of blue pennant stone – the same as used at Stonehenge – into three interlocking segments which are mounted on old railway sleepers. A massive but ignored presence at the village centre, which is becoming increasingly dangerous as the sleepers rot away.
The Watchers (Carleton Attwood, 1982). The first sculpture in West Swindon cast in ferro-concrete at Swindon’s town hall studios, one of Carleton’s last works and largely completed by Pat Elmore. The work representing guardians of the new community of West Swindon and located at Toothill Village Centre has deteriorated because of the weather and vandalism.
Hey Diddle Diddle (Vega Bermejo, 1982) Carved from Portland Stone, this charming lyrical sculpture sits prominently on the edge of Spencer Close, The Prinnells.
Diana Dors – Film Star (John Clinch, 1991) A flamboyant portrait of the late Swindon actress outside the cinema at Shaw Ridge Leisure Park. Like Diana Dors herself, the statue is larger than life, and is thankfully free of graffiti.
The Swindon Link walking tour pdf. We were going to post a map created in 2004 but decided to create a new one and its taking a bit more time than we thought. Apologies – something to do with ash clouds.
If you’d like us to send you one as soon as it’s ready, mail email@example.com