New sculpture to adorn Battle town centre?

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DRAFT plans have been submitted for a modern art sculpture to stand in the shadow of the towering Battle Abbey gatehouse.

Lesley Samms, managing director of the Pure Arts Group, says former town mayor Richard Bye first raised the idea of a possible new sculpture on the Abbey Green for the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 2016.

Lesley said: “My feelings are that public art and cultural activities generally have a positive impact on all communities, both from a community engagement and well being perspective and, if done well, can also have a significant impact on the local economy; attracting a new and more diverse range of visitors.

“Personally I felt a sculpture on the Abbey Green as a stand alone project would not deliver huge benefits to Battle.

“However, I did, and still do, feel if we looked at the bigger picture and included the Abbey Green as part of a much wider public art project, encompassing and connecting the entire town, this could have a significant impact and positively connect Battle as an art and culture tourist destination to the string of galleries and art activity that takes place along the coast - Jerwood, Turner, Folkestone Triennial etc.”

Following discussions with Cllr Bye, Lesley approached Angela Conner, a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors with more than 40 years experience of making public sculptures, for some initial suggestions.

Lesley said: “Angela’s work often harnesses the natural forces of our environment - water, wind, gravity, sun, etc.

“These natural elements move and unfold the forms in her sculpture which make them visually impactful and appealing in the landscape.”

The ‘very basic first draft concept idea’ from Angela Conner (pictured) has been presented to Battle Town Council.

Deputy town clerk Carol Harris told the Observer that while councillors supported the idea of the artwork, they did not feel that the Abbey Green was the right location.

Carol said: “The general consensus is the Abbey Green is not a suitable location because of all the events that go on there, and we do not want to detract from the view of the Abbey.

“But we are encouraged by the idea of art and felt it would be suitable for the town in general.”

Jo Stewart, property manager at 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield, said: “While Angela Conner’s concept is certainly interesting, I understand that the brief from the council was for suggestions for an art installation on the roundabout at the far end of the High Street from the Abbey.

“We are very lucky to have one of the finest gatehouses in England here and I don’t think it needs any further adornment!”

Meanwhile another suggestion has been put forward by a local resident for a statue of King Harold, to stand on the roundabout at the opposite end of the High Street.

Both plans are to be discussed by the council in more depth at a future meeting.