Friday, January 22, 2016

Valuable sculpture sold off for a song by my old school

Thursday's Front Row on Radio 4 had an item on Historic England's forthcoming exhibition Out There: Our Post-War Public Art, which opens at Somerset House on 3 February.

The item runs from 7:38 to 12:32, though the opening one on how Elton John now fits in touring around the school run makes good listening too.

Sarah Gaventa, the curator of the exhibition, talks about some of the lost works she would like to locate (if they have not already been melted down).

I blogged about Historic England and its quest for these lost public artworks in December.

One of the works Sarah mentions in her interview is the sculpture Astonia by Bryan Kneale, which she said was housed at "a Leicestershire school" between 1973 and 2014.

That school was my alma mater - now the Robert Smyth Academy. I remember the sculpture clearly, though I am afraid we never thought much of it.

It was sold two years ago by Gilding's of Market Harborough (frequent stars of TV's Flog It!) from whose website I have borrowed this image.

Astonia fetched £360 but should have made something like £30,000. Its whereabouts are now a mystery.

Leicestershire County Council had acquired it at the end of a mid 20th century era when the authorities believed the people, and children in particular, needed good public art. The wonderful School Prints come from that era too.

I mourn that era's passing, even if Astonia does not appeal to me today either.

Thanks to @RutlandNed for the tip.

Later. @Stephen25367746 tells me Astonia was originally displayed outside Southampton Art Gallery.

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