The Image Archive from Ruth Serjeant.
Many thanks for another superb edition of the Newsletter, and in particular for the mention of my work on the original photographic collections. If there was one way in which a newcomer to Ipswich could learn her way around the town and appreciate all the visual treasures it was made up of, this turned out to be the way to do it! It certainly confirmed my belief in the archival necessity of putting dates and other identification details on the image – even on the small slide holders of the 35mm image! I am sure that, still lurking at the back of some cupboard, there are slides that need the digitisation process, if I can ever date and identify the locality! Once again, many thanks in brightening these uncertain days and showing that The Ipswich Society continues to show that Ipswich matters
Newsletter appreciation from Shirley Talbot
I so appreciate receiving my regular Ipswich Society Newsletter for which I say thank you to you, the Committee and all other helpers. The various items and photos really keep me up to date with all that’s happening in our county town.
In this July issue I found particularly interesting the changing face of the Butter Market. I well remember enjoying lunches and queueing for films at the Ritz Cinema. A popular remark at the time of continuous performances was exiting the cinema with the words ‘this is where we came in’! Such enjoyable films.
Again, with thanks to all responsible for the production of the Newsletter.
Public sculptures and art in Ipswich from Graham Day
Ipswich is well endowed with a large amount of public art, but it appears there is very little by way of explanation as to why some pieces exist, what they are meant to be, and who the sculptor is. One piece which I often find very strange when I see it is that of the fly swatting major, on Majors Corner. It perplexes me greatly.
This then leads me on to say that I have a very good friend who wants to come and visit Suffolk. He is into art and would be interested to see the variety of static and kinetic sculptures/public art in Ipswich. With the Tourist Information Centre closing, I am at a loss as to where to go for information.
The first piece of public art that I can recall was the sculpture on the side of the shops at St Matthews Street/ Berners Street junction, dubbed I believe as a ‘load of junk’, and installed as part of the modernisation programme in the 1960s. Over the years there has been a continuous procession of public art across the town, including the statue of the Russian Prince Obolensky, on Cromwell Square. Based at Martlesham Heath aerodrome as a pilot in the second world war, he played rugby internationally for England. I believe this was the result of an initiative by the late James Hehir, Chief Executive of Ipswich Borough Council. There was also an animal statute, paid for I think by a doctor, which was installed on the New Wolsey Theatre roundabout, but which somehow has mysteriously disappeared. There are also some kinetic sculptures on Ravenswood, which I have passed whilst completing the annual Orwell Walk and, in the same area, a stone lifting giant near the retail park which houses B&Q.
However, nowhere can I find any readily accessible details of the location and description of these works of art, which are distributed widely across the town. Surely the Borough Council would like the public to appreciate and understand them? The only exception is the football related statues in Portman Road which thankfully require no explanation.
Elmer the Elephant generated tremendous interest in 2019, as did the pigs a few years previously. There can be effort expended to produce an Ed Sheeran trail, to capitalise on the tourism potential at the time of his Chantry Park Concerts, but nothing whatsoever about the public art works which are always in situ in the town. Other towns can produce art trails with less exhibits, but the Borough Council does not seem to be capable of doing this, or even promoting the public art, not even as an afterthought.
I know that all art should help to stimulate an enquiring mind, but some assistance for location and interpretation would make things much more interesting and avoiding the ‘I don’t know; it’s another load of old junk!’ remark.
Heaven forbid, however, that some sculptures are considered to be embarrassing, and not worthy of further information! (See the response below – Ed.)
Public sculpture in Ipswich
Graham Day’s Letter to the Editor on the previous page prompts two good sources for information. Unfortunately, having originally been printed items, they are now available only on the internet, so you’ll need a computer, mobile, tablet.
Richard Cocke (once a Society Winter Talk speaker) runs the excellent Public Sculpture in Norfolk and Suffolk website: http://www.racns.co.uk. Details of all Ipswich sculptures.
The Ipswich Artathon was published by the Borough in 2012 to show descriptions, locations and photographs of forty-seven public works of art in the town. It includes most of the interesting works but we could do with an updated version:
The October 2020 Newsletter will carry a full article giving proper coverage of this important subject – we have a lot to be proud of in Ipswich.