A controversial statue that has divided the opinion of residents and visitors has now been removed from its spot outside Chichester Cathedral – but new pieces of art could soon take pride of place there.
The blue and yellow statue caused a bit of a stir when it was erected four months ago. Some praised it as innovative while others branded it an ‘eye-sore’.
The sculpture, called Lo and Behold, was the work of Giles Penny and was brought about by the Chichester City Centre Partnership. It was removed on Monday.
But Andrew Finnamore, chairman of the City Centre Partnership who instigated and arranged for the finances of the sculpture, said there could be plans to display new plinths on a rotational basis in the city.
He said: “This was always where I wanted to take this. It wasn’t just about a simple sculpture, it was about having accessible art in the city. This site was chosen because it was one of the nine trees that had to be taken down because they were diseased. It had an old flower display which beautifully complemented the tired benches.”
Some residents were happy to see the back of the Lo and Behold statue. Caroline Wickham, 52, said she felt much better now the statue had gone. “It was a waste of time. It was awful,” she said.
Jonathan Pearce, 51, also did not like the statue. He said: “I thought it was a very good innovation, but no, the actual sculpture I didn’t like. I thought it was an eye-sore.”
Mr Finnamore said the city had a wealth of very talented artists below the surface. “The other thing we should remember is people by their nature are conservative and do not like change or at least struggle with it,” he said. “When I was helping to take the sculpture away, four out of the five people who spoke to me said they were in favour of it.”
Mr Finnamore said there were plans to use the spot outside the cathedral to rotate new plinths on.
He added: “We are proposing a rotational plinth where a committee would be set up to change the sculpture every four to six months. We would have a small group of individuals with a non-arts based chairman – someone who could be objective.”
This is an idea Chichester district and city councillor Michael Woolley supports. He thought the sculpture was a ‘very well-meant gesture’ for the city. “I think it is a great idea to have sculptures in the city, they bring a liveliness to the city centre. I would like to see some sort of committee and have lots of people in the town and around Chichester who could be helpful.
“It could involve the director of Pallant House Gallery Stefan van Raay, chairman of the National Open Art Competition in Chichester, Neil Lawson Baker, and more. It would be better left to the really well-qualified to make the choices.”
A spokesperson for Chichester District Council said: “If the proposal is to use the site on the West Street footway in Chichester for a permanent display of statues, it will need full planning permission. This will be the case even if individual statues are only temporary, and then replaced.”