Hopes are riding high that the South Downs could proudly boast an iconic sculpture, imposing enough to rival the Angel of the North.
The ambitious plan is the brainchild of sculptor Nic Fiddian-Green, whose stunning horse’s head creation, Artemis, stood for much of this year on the Trundle and then at Goodwood racecourse before being moved to Goodwood House.
The 40ft-high statue will leave Sussex forever on Friday, en route to its permanent home on the far side of the world.
The sculpture has been bought by the widow of an Australian media mogul who had strong links with the equine world, and with West Sussex. On Monday it was loaded on to a trailer and taken to Southampton docks to await the start of its long sea voyage, via the Panama Canal.
It will arrive Down Under on December 27 before the last leg of its journey to the family’s idyllic estate and its final resting place, where it will stand over the late entrepreneur’s graveside.
Appropriately, the horse’s head is no longer known as Artemis – it has reverted to the name Mr Fiddian-Green originally gave it: ‘I Look Beyond for a Distant Land’.
But the magnificent statue leaves behind a lasting legacy – Mr Fiddian-Green and a number of his supporters hope a similar but much larger sculpture, at least 100ft-120ft high, can be created to stand on a dramatic downland skyline somewhere in West Sussex.
Spearheading the campaign to give the South Downs such an iconic focal point is Jules Ansell, who lives at Treyford and is currently searching for a suitable site.
On the lawn in front of Goodwood House on Monday to say farewell to the sculpture was his wife Sophie, who thought many people would support the idea of a ‘Horse of the South’ gazing out from the downs.
“I think it’s got to happen,” she said. “I was lucky enough quite by chance to be one of the first people to see Artemis arrive and all the local people I have spoken to said they loved it. I believe many people would want to see a much bigger horse’s head take its place permanently here on the downs.”
Mr Fiddian-Green is realistic there are many hurdles to cross before permission is gained for an imposing sculpture, especially since the establishment of the South Downs National Park.
“I feel it would be the perfect way to celebrate the new national park,” he said. “What I would like to do is make something for our land, for the people, that we could be proud of.”