Chapter Voices: Hannah Firth - Save Our Sculpture

Posted on: 27 Nov 2018 by Hannah Firth

Chapter Arts Centre has launched a new initiative called Save Our Sculpture - its first online fundraising campaign via Art Happens, Art Fund’s crowdfunding platform. 

We are asking people to become involved in a really exciting project: to raise £18,000 to help rescue and restore an iconic sculpture by seminal British artist Garth Evans and bring it back home to Wales. 

In 1972, influential British artist Garth Evans created a large-scale sculpture that was sited in Cardiff City Centre for six months as part of the Peter Stuyvesant City Sculpture project, which saw seventeen new works placed at the heart of eight cities across England and Wales. The project was a significant chapter in the history of public art and urban space, using urban locations that were detached from more traditional rationales.

Garth chose Cardiff as the location for his work as he had very strong family connections with Wales and his Welsh grandfather’s tales of his time as a miner were hugely influential in the sculpture’s form – evoking both a hammer-like tool and the image of a mine tunnel that was as black as coal.

“I wanted to make something that would impact its location, altering and affecting the space and by its presence, create a new sense of place.” explained Evans.

The sculpture was one of the first publicly-sited works to be installed in Wales and the morning after its installation, Garth anonymously recorded the comments of passers-by, giving a unique insight in to viewer’s reactions:

“It’ll dawn on me some day. But then, at that point, I’ll have different interpretations, according to my moods, you see, and I’ll work at this – because it’s provocative”  41st Man, The Cardiff Tapes

“It’s just art, is it?”  Husband

“It’s a work of a man who has put his life into it!”  20th Man

“There’s not much beauty in it. I can’t see no beauty at all in that”  1st Man

After the project, the sculpture was relocated to Leicestershire where it has remained neglected and unseen by the public ever since. The years have definitely taken their toll on this important work and its condition is now rapidly deteriorating.

Your donations will help us to save the sculpture by carrying out the specialist restoration that is so desperately needed to prevent any further and potentially irreversible damage. In a truly unique project, we will then be able to return the work to its original location in Wales almost fifty years after it was first seen.

Once in place, a new set of recordings will be gathered anonymously by the artist. We’ll be able to find out what a whole new generation of people thinks about it and how attitudes towards art in the public realm might have changed.

This project is not only about restoring and relocating an historically significant work of art, it’s also about the power that art has to transform our civic spaces and influence the opinions of future generations.

The return of the sculpture to Cardiff also forms part of a wider celebration of Garth’s work and, following it, will be an exhibition at Chapter (the first solo exhibition of his work in Wales since 1976); The Cardiff Tapes, a theatre production based on the original recordings made in Cardiff; a new recording and subsequent publication featuring a transcript of comments made by the general public in response to the sculpture in 2019.

The Art Happens campaign will last for six weeks from 26 November 2018 to 14 January 2019 and this fantastic project will only be realised if all the £18,000 is raised, so please support us by contributing as much or as little as you can

Donations start from as little as £5 and there are a fantastic range of rewards on offer in return for your support, including a set of 8 exclusive postcards and a tote bag, inspired by the project. Other rewards include a limited edition print, tickets to see the new production of 'The Cardiff Tapes', a private tour of the exhibition with the artist and curator or a framed, limited edition etichng by Garth Evans

Check out the Art Happens website for more information and make a donation.

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