Statuesque Aspirations

A sketch of the proposed Rosenberg statue by Etienne Millner. From http://www.jeecs.org.uk/rosenberg.html.

Last week there passed across my screen the information that there are plans in progress to commission a statue of the First World War poet Isaac Rosenberg (See HERE).  This follows the announcement in November 2012 that a simple sheet steel ‘statue’ of the renowned War Poet Wilfred Owen is being commissioned in his native Shrewsbury (see HERE).  Close to my home here in Lichfield, May and December 2012 saw the unveiling of two statues of Erasmus Darwin, who lived next door to me (see HERE).  Furthermore, the source of the original passing over my desk of the news about the Rosenberg statue (Tim Kendall’s War Poetry Blog) has since been appended with a comment that a committee in Harrow has been convened to look into the possibility of commissioning a statue and other art works honouring the War Poet and artist, David Jones.

A number of artists are already commemorated with statues.  Cheltenham is adorned with a very fine statue of Holst; and Edward Elgar is honoured by a number of such things, both with and without his bicycle.   There is a statue of Ralph Vaughan Williams in Dorking…

For some time I have wondered whether such an honour could be paid to Ivor Gurney – the composer and War Poet with whose work I have become most closely associated in my research and writing – either in his native city of Gloucester or, more idealistically, on Crickley Hill, where he could be set for eternity at stance looking out over his beloved Severn Plain; over Gloucester and out towards Wales.  Or perhaps a bench should be erected on Chosen Hill, Churchdown, on which Gurney might sit alongside a second statue of Herbert Howells, looking out towards the Malvern Hills, the bench perhaps inscribed with motifs from Howells’s Piano Quartet…

Gloucester could also be treated to a statue of Sir Hubert Parry, one of the founding fathers of British music in the twentieth century, the importance of whose work has been long overshadowed by Elgar.

The £92,000 cited as the figure required to be raised for the Rosenberg sounds both an enormous amount of money and also a relative snip, given that such things would most probably be cast in bronze.  But in this ‘Age of Austerity’ where large businesses are going into administration on an almost daily basis, it might seem frivolous and rather pie-in-the-sky to be embarking upon such ventures.  There would undoubtedly be arguments that public monies should be spent on something far more worthwhile then mere statuary.  And yet what can be more important?  The arts are the facet of humanity that defines us as human, and its importance should never be underestimated.  Adorning our cities with sculptures of some of the heroes of the arts not only adds focal points and things of potential beauty and interest to our streets.  They could encourage some sense of pride in the heritage of that place and might prompt some to investigate anew some of these figures, who could find themselves enriched and inspired by the poetry, music or art that they find.  The need for art is paramount, particularly during times of austerity, when opportunities for retail ‘therapy’ are becoming more difficult.  Looking deeply into a piece of art might just allow you to see more deeply within yourself, discovering parts of your being that you never knew existed.