Fowey’s latest resident is top selfie spot
- Credit: Ewen MacDonald
Daphne du Maurier’s famous antagonist swoops down on Fowey in remembrance of the beloved Cornwall-based writer
The harbour town of Fowey will forever be connected to bestselling writer Daphne du Maurier and alongside an annual literary festival in her name, the town has recognised her adopted home town (she lived in nearby Menabilly for many years) with a new artwork featuring one of her most memorable creations.
The Rook with a Book represents her short story The Birds, which Alfred Hitchcock took (and had totally rewrote) into his movie of the same name.
Originally undertaking a two-year residency in the town’s Berrill’s Yard, the Rook with a Book has now found a permanent perch in Town Quay where tourists spent the summer in selfie heaven (look up #rookwithabook and you can see for yourself).
Father and son Gary and Thomas Thrussell who are based at Temple at Bodmin Moor created the sculpture – which took an estimated 500 hours over three years to create.
“There is a beak under the beak,” says Gary who reworked it. They also played artistic license with the feet which pedants might notice are larger than they should be to ensure safe perching - ornithologists look away now.
The work isn’t cast but sculpted in the studio. The Thrussells mostly work in galvanised steel.
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Gary began his career in engineering and from underneath a car armed with a welding torch, he decided on a different and more creative path, first making metal insects that he sold at Covent Garden before moving on to larger sculptures. He moved his family to Temple 20 years ago to allow him to expand his studio. His son Thomas undertook an apprenticeship in welding and fabrication and joined the family business which has seen them create work for all over the world. Among their recent projects is The Beatles sculpture for Plymouth Hoe which marks the spot where one of the world’s most influential bands sat in the late 1960s - the sculpture guides fans to sit in the same place as George, John, Paul and Ringo.
Landmarks to Daphne du Maurier are dotted throughout Cornwall. The Jamaica Inn that inspired the book by the same name sits just a few miles from the Thrussel’s studio. She lived in South Cornwall for half a century and will always be most associated with Fowey where many buildings bear her name. She spent many years at Menabilly House - on which she based the fictitious state of Manderley in Rebecca – which sits just outside the village in its own estate.
The story of The Birds is as much associated with the Northern Californian town of Bodega Bay as it is with Fowey - the small enclave was the setting for the 1963 film, which regularly makes it on to critics’s best films ever made list. The town holds a scaled down copy of The Rook with a Book sculpture in their museum which still attracts Hitchcock fans (the phone box in which Tippi Hedron hides during an attack remains the top attraction). Incidentally Alfred Hitchcock also made a much-lauded film of Du Mauriers classic story Rebecca.
The Thrussells are currently putting the finishing touches to a two-metre high dinosaur heading to Kent in December. Their next project in Cornwall will see them create the centrepiece to the giant labyrinth being created on Bodmin Moor to mark the 60th anniversary of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Golden Tree Productions – who gave us the giant Man Engine are planning a permanent, living monument overlooking the beautiful Colliford Lake. Kerdroya will feature a perfect scaled down copy of the labyrinth in sculpture as part of a sun dial. “It is designed to last 4,000 years,” says Gary.
THis article first appeared in Cornwall Life. For our latest subscription offers click here