Campaigns

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Save our Sculpture is an initiative of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, which campaigns for increased care and appreciation of public art - anything from Nelson's column to a commemorative drinking fountain.

The PMSA has instituted the first national survey of public art: the National Recording Project which currently carries records online for 70% of Britain, and has recorded many that are neglected or at risk of irreparable damage or loss. Using this unique resource, SoS identifies sculptures at risk, records them on the SoS At Risk Register, and alerts local authorities, private owners, campaign groups and the general public to the urgent need for action.

SoS aims to help those who care about their local sculptures and monuments to do something about their maintenance and preservation - to press for change and make it happen.

The PMSA collaborates on sculpture conferences and preservation campaigns: it belongs to the conservation grants panel of Friends of War Memorials (English Heritage), participated in the awareness-raising Fourth Plinth project, and advises local authorities and others on sculptural issues - including identification, history, conservation and listing. Increased public awareness encourages care of the historic and creation of the new: witness the Diana Fountain nearing fruition by the Serpentine, the Albert Memorial spectacularly restored, and the reinstatement of Drury's 'Morn' and 'Even' sculptures in Leeds City Square.

Despite this, neglect and mistreatment are rife.The SoS At Risk Register features, amongst others, Northumbrian heroine Grace Darling's canopied memorial (see picture, left); architectural sculptures at Royal Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford; and historic busts in London's Leicester Square. See more information about some sculptures at risk, and examples of successful restorations, in the section on case studies

Public Art at Risk

Huddersfield's 'Articulation in Movement'

The PMSA strongly supports the move to preserve Huddersfield's Queensgate Market and 'Articulation in Movement', the unique ceramic panels on its façade. A letter of protest has been sent to Planning and Building Control at Kirklees Council, and advice about recording the works offered to the market's campaign group, Huddersfield Gem.

The group states:
The Queensgate façade of the market hall displays five roof shells with patent curtain wall glazing with glazing bars synchronised with the roof lines. Below, it is decorated with ceramic panels by Fritz Steller of the Square One Design Workshop of Snitterfield, Stratford upon Avon. The enormous relief panels (16' x 17') are proud between Elland Edge ashlar and over stone sneck cladding. The panels continue across the façade of the adjoining market hall shops, to make nine panels in all. To the right hand end is the later much bigger and double-sided tenth panel through which passes the staircase that rises from Queensgate to the Piazza. The work was said to be the largest ceramic sculpture in the world, being made from 50 tons of Stourbridge fire clay fired in a specially built reduction kiln at Snitterfield to biscuit temperature, making them acid rain- and chemical-resistant. The rust-brown colouring of the panels came from iron and manganese oxide. The work is entitled "Articulation In Movement".The PMSA argues that public art erected after WWII is subject to more risk than many other periods. Queensgate Market is certainly one of the most prominent manifestations of what one might call a heroic modernism which is steadily becoming rarer throughout England. Local authorities need to be aware that some of their cultural ‘assets' can easily be lost or compromised if they are not amenable to sensitive change which can protect such artworks whilst allowing more efficient and commercial structures. Architects should relish the chance to be involved with such a design challenge incorporating this unique character.

Worthing's 'Desert Quartet'

Desert Quartet, Elisabeth Frink's ensemble at Worthing which was approved for Listing at Grade II* on 10 May, 2007, remains listed - despite a reversal appeal by the Avon Group. It is they who gave it to Worthing in perpetuity (and in exchange for planning gain) in 1989, and they who are still later fought to take it back. The Twentieth Century Society, supported by the Worthing Society and the PMSA, campaigned vigorously for the Listing of this unique work of art, so that it could stay in the location for which Frink created the ensemble, her penultimate commission. The campaign began again at the Avon Group's appeal. We hope this impudent attempt to renege on a gift with conditions can at last be laid to rest.

 Get involved - you can help to make a difference

Public sculptures belong to us all. If you think your neighbourhood sculpture is at risk:

Consult your local history library/record office. Find out:
• Who is responsible for its upkeep?
• Is it on public / private / corporate land?
• Is it Listed? (English Heritage Listing recommendation affects all planning decisions).

Consult the National Recording Project Online Database on this site (to find out, for example, about details of ownership).

Print out and fill in the printable response form on this site and return it to the PMSA, or complete the online response form

Important - please send copies to the:
• Organisation responsible for upkeep, if known
• Parish / Borough Council
• Local Authority Conservation Officer
• English Heritage Regional Office

Alert local societies / businesses / residents' associations.
Make Contact with organisations which might help with your queries about a particular public sculpture or monument through the SoS Links page.

Following up

Your response form will alert the authorities to sculptures at risk. The PMSA SoS Campaign will follow up each case and press for appropriate action to be taken.

Therefore, please report to PMSA SoS Campaign any:
• positive response
• proposed action
• unsatisfactory response
• lack of response after 4-6 weeks

Remember, public sculptures belong to us all, so:

Report signs of neglect such as:
• Build-up of litter and dirt
• Removal of letters or details
• Graffiti
• Surface erosion, structural cracks

Report to SoS any indications of:

• Cleaning or repair • Removal, relocation
• Change of ownership Remember that:
• Regular maintenance is essential
• Everyday care costs less than major restorations
• Prompt removal of graffiti, litter, dropplngs, discourages vandalism
• Local support is crucial for action.

But...

• Owners and official bodies need your input
• Old monuments need not look new
• No treatment should be undertaken without expert advice
• Keep comments concise and factual

If your sculptures or commemorative monuments are well cared-for, please help keep them that way