Several members of the Society joined a goodly number of people, including the press and television, in support of the River Action Group on 14 May. The occasion was the unveiling of John Atkin's corton steel 16 feet high sculpture, "The Navigator", commissioned by the River Action Group.
The day had been wet but by 5 pm the sun was shining as we assembled on the river path of the Gipping, looking in awe at the huge plastic-covered structure. We were also in sight of the Princes Street bridge and Ranelagh Road, two of the vantage points from which "The Navigator" can be viewed, albeit at a distance.
Tom Gondris, Chairman of the River Action Group, explained the history of the project, the competition to choose the sculptor and the success in obtaining various grants so that the costs did not fall on the Borough Council. An area had been cleared with some planting already in place for the siting of this large sculpture representing Ipswich's industrial past. [The photograph on the opposite page reminds us that it is also possible to see "The Navigator" juxtaposed with some existing industrial premises, the Reavell Works of CompAir Reavell Ltd.]
Unfortunately, these proceedings were delayed by the collapse of our Chairman, Jack Chapman, but we were heartened by the speed in which a paramedic and ambulance arrived, considering the difficulty in negotiating a river path and the crew's care and attention in dealing with Jack's injuries. Tom Gondris then performed the task of pulling a rope to release the plastic and reveal the imposing "Navigator" to a round of applause. People gathered round to inspect the sculpture from all angles and to speak to John Atkin himself.
A reception took place soon after at Christchurch Mansion where an exhibition of drawings showing the preparations for the sculpture could be seen, and John Atkin carried on talking to the many individuals who expressed interest.