Public sculptures in Surrey - 10 of the best
- Credit: Archant
Bringing colour to our streets, Surrey’s public works of art come in all shapes and sizes – sometimes commemorating what our towns and villages are famous for, other times creating their own fame entirely...
The Surrey Scholar
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Found at the bottom of Guildford’s historic High Street, The Surrey Scholar was gifted to the town by the University of Surrey on their 35th birthday in 2002. The 11ft high sculpture, showing a student rushing to a lecture, was created by Allan Sly, whose works can also be seen at the nearby Electric Theatre and at the University of Surrey’s Guildford campus. At the other end of the High Street, you’ll find the 1993 statue of George Abbot, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, by artist Faith Winter.
Rarely has a piece of Surrey artwork ruffled as many feathers as the Dorking Cockerel. Standing proudly on the Deepdene roundabout, this 10ft high sculpture still causes many a wry smile, not to mention several near-misses, as drivers stare in wonder at the giant bird. The enormous effigy was created by sculptor Peter Parkinson of Leatherhead’s Fire & Iron Gallery (well worth a visit!) who were commissioned to produce the bird. His previous town centre artwork in Surrey included the ‘bridge’ roundels in Leatherhead’s High Street.
In 1862, the Staines Linoleum Company opened its doors for business. Founded by local entrepreneur Frederick Walton, it produced his new invention of linoleum floor covering. The company, ‘Staines Lino’, became a worldwide brand and was responsible for employing the majority of the local population right up until the 1960s. The site of the original factory is now the location of the Two Rivers Shopping Centre. Its significance to the area was commemorated with a bronze sculpture of a lino cutter in Staines town centre.
Out of Order
While many villages around the UK are losing theirs, Kingston is spoiled with old-fashioned red telephone boxes. Admittedly, they congregate though in the form of the town’s toppling telephone boxes sculpture on Old London Road. A must-see for any visitor, Out of Order was designed by David Mach in 1988 and has provided many a photo opportunity for tourists. There was controversy, however, last Christmas when a Cath Kidston design was added to the artwork to promote festive shopping.
Alice and the White Rabbit
If you’ve ever taken a stroll along the River Wey in Guildford, you may well have wondered about the Alice and the White Rabbit statue on its banks. In short, this beautiful little statue was made in 1984 by local sculptor Edwin Russell as a tribute to author Lewis Carroll (or the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson as he was really known) who is buried at The Mount cemetery near Guildford. He moved his family into a house near the castle ruins, The Chestnuts, in 1868, although he never lived in the town himself.
Dame Margot Fonteyn
Born in Deerings Road, Reigate, in 1919, Peggy Hookham went on to find fame as leading ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn. This bronze statue captures the grace of one of the finest classical ballerinas of all time outside Watson Wyatt’s building near Reigate Station. The work was created by Nathan David and unveiled in 1980. Margot danced with the Royal Ballet and was appointed Prima Ballerina Assoluta by the Queen.
Completed in 1909, the famous Abinger Hammer clock celebrates the role of the blacksmithing industry in the village’s past and was built in honour of Thomas Henry Farrer, who established much of the village. Looking out over the stream and green (which in the summer months is often populated by families picnicking and fishing), it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it attraction that you may have sped below on numerous occasions without taking much notice. So, next time you’re passing through, stop off if you can to appreciate the scene.
Woking shoppers may have got used to the sight of the town centre Martian, but newcomers still get a shock. It’s a tribute to author HG Wells, who lived in the town and wrote The War of the Worlds there. In the story, the invasion lands at the nearby Horsell Common before leaving a trail of destruction through the Surrey countryside. The tripod was designed by Michael Condron and unveiled in 1998. Read on for more about HG Wells and Surrey’s links to sci-fi.
The Right Way
Now a well-known landmark in Camberley town centre, this striking piece of public art at the junction of Park Street and Obelisk Way and adjacent to The Atrium entertainment and retail centre was unveiled in 2009. Made by the renowned sculptor Rick Kirby, the stainless steel artwork shows three figures pointing along the three different directions of the junction atop a metal spire. The sculpture is entitled The Right Way, indicating that any direction in the town centre will not disappoint and that the town itself is going the right way.
Badly damaged by a tornado in 2007, the future looked bleak for what had been a fine old oak tree on Broomhall Common in Woking – until, that is, Horsell Common Preservation Society came up with a rather novel remedy. Instead of felling the tree, they decided to commission Captain Chainsaw and his crew to create an artwork from the trunk. The result, which can be found opposite the Brewery Road car park, is the stunning Pegasus.
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