Anna Sewell's Black Beauty inspires public art for Great Yarmouth

March 19, 2024  •  1 Comment
Artists commissioned for Great Yarmouth’s exciting new public art trail
 

Eleven pieces of art have been commissioned by Great Yarmouth Borough Council to create a major new cultural trail for the town.

Funded by £330,000 of Government Town Deal money, the ambitious project will see ten sculptures - focusing on the themes of maritime and medieval history, arts heritage, seaside, transport and energy - to create a rich and involving experience for locals and visitors.

Councillor Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: ''We are delighted to have received Government funding to be able to deliver an excellent new addition to the town that enhances our public spaces for the community and improves our tourism offer.

‘’We had huge interest from the arts community to create the pieces and we have an incredibly rich and vibrant range of sculptures that I know people will take to their hearts and that will be a real asset for the borough.’’

Loïs Cordelia is one of the commissioned artists and hopes to create her artwork live in Great Yarmouth later this year (dates TBC). Loïs took inspiration from the town's connection with English novelist Anna Sewell, best known as the author of the 1877 novel Black Beauty. Sewell was born in Great Yarmouth in 1820. Black Beauty is considered one of the top ten best-selling novels for children, although the author intended the work for an adult audience. Sewell died only five months after Black Beauty's publication, having lived long enough to see her only novel become a success. It was a pioneering work for its time, telling the story from an animal's point of view.



£50,000 of Government Future High Streets funding has also been secured by the council to commission an additional sculpture as part of the improvement works underway at the Market Place.

To be positioned at the southern end of the Market Place, near the events space, well- known Bungay artist Mark Goldsworthy will create ‘Yarn with Ernie’, a tribute to the people of Yarmouth using the late Great Yarmouth artist Ernie Childs as inspiration. Ernie Childs was born in the town’s Row 73 in 1947 and was celebrated for his maritime paintings that were inspired by the fishing industry. He and his wife also founded the former Great Yarmouth Potteries and were well known for their charity and community work.
Mr Goldsworthy is creating a statue depicting a figure dressed in a fisherman’s smock, paintbrush in hand and gesturing in welcome, leaning on an open herring barrel packed with fish. The sculpture will include three oak benches in an arc in reference to the timbers at the town’s harbour entrance.

The remaining ten sculptures will provide an outdoor gallery and circular walking route from the historic Market Place to the seafront, taking in St George’s Road and park, Regent Road and Church Plain.

The trail is designed to celebrate Great Yarmouth’s cultural diversity and create a sense of pride in place, strengthening the town’s reputation as a walkable town which offers quality, interest and connects people with their heritage, culture and natural environment.


The free-to-access outdoor gallery will also include volunteering and training opportunities for local people. As part of the project, the trail is also set to include a specially commissioned section of tiled paving created by Great Yarmouth’s Reprezent Project to reflect the cultural impact of the town’s Portuguese community.

Commissioned following an open procurement process, the council worked with organisations, including the Royal Society of Sculptors and Norfolk and Suffolk Art Forums, to invite submissions before councillors, officers and representatives from The Arts Council and Historic England, selected the pieces from a total of 98 submissions.

Mr Goldsworthy said: ‘’I am delighted to have been chosen to make what I hope will be a fitting tribute to the people of the town. With his welcoming and warm nature, my design very much represents the archetypal Great Yarmouth character, the like of which I remember well.

‘’It is a privilege to be able to create a statue that honours the heritage of the town as well as its people. It is a very exciting project to be involved in and I hope it will help create a lasting legacy for local people to enjoy and for visitors to learn more about the town’s fascinating mix of culture, community and industry.’’

The artworks will celebrate the best of Great Yarmouth, from its role as a circus capital, its maritime and medieval history, through to its embracing of clean energy and transport links. Councillor James Bensley, Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s portfolio holder for tourism, culture and coastal management, said: ''This exciting and high-quality new trail will offer our residents and visitors the opportunity to see first-class public art and give people a chance to explore Great Yarmouth and discover more about the town.

‘’I am delighted people will be able to enjoy such an impressive collection of public art in the borough and am grateful to all the artists who are contributing such amazing pieces.’’

 

 


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