Public sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk
Richard Cocke with photography by Sarah Cocke.
Liverpool University Press, 2013.
This, the sixteenth volume in the Public Sculpture of Britain series, covers three dimensional works of art on open display in the two main counties of East Anglia. As The Ipswich Society has an interest in the book and assisted the author and photographer with a preparatory tour of the town's public sculpture, that is the section which first draws the eye. Within the first paragraph about Ipswich, the ever-shifting civic landscape is illustrated by mention of Antony Robinson's Longship screens on the Old Cattle Market bus station, which at the time of writing have been removed during a major refurbishment of the site. We await the reinstatement of this fine work with its art nouveau-inspired whiplash metalwork (but it sadly won't be in its original place). Since publication, Miles Robinson's Grandma statue in tribute to Carl Giles has been relocated as part of the Giles Circus reconfiguration.
A good selection of Ipswich sculpture is included with detailed annotations; many are illustrated by Sarah Cocke's fine monochrome photographs. Perhaps the inclusion of the Wolsey Gate in College Street and several other public buildings is a surprise. John Ravera's Spirit of youth, tucked away off Museum Street and now, sadly, lacking the sculpted bronze hat which lay on the nearby bench, is omitted, but his Trawlerman on Hadleigh Road is there. Also missing is Linda Thomas' Innocence in Christchurch Park as are the park's several chainsaw sculptures: perhaps the latter are seen as temporary works. It would be churlish to list all the omissions as a book such as this can only hope to provide a general survey. Having said that, the level of scholarship of the entries is impressive; attributions and historical detail inspire renewed interest in oft-ignored pieces.
The author has remarked that Ipswich, in particular, is forward-thinking in its incorporation of new public sculpture in recent residential, infrastructure, retail and industrial developments. The inspirational flying female figures of Formation by Rick Kirby at the entrance to the Ravenswood development on the old airport site are perhaps the first and best known example of such commissions. The resiting of Bernard Reynold's 1971 Ship sculpture from a 'lost' space next to the old Civic Centre to the middle of the Handford Road roundabout resulted in an excellent piece of work becoming well-known and seen by thousands of people every day. Sadly, the Big Question Mark by Langlands & Bell on the Waterfront is too recent to be included.