Dotted around Horsham are a number of sculptures, some more obvious than others. Bronze seems to be the preferred medium in the town centre, but the use of wood is more popular in the park.
Perhaps the most notorious in recent years are Lorne McKean’s three swans doing a splash landing into water at Swan Walk; they attracted a lot of attention in September 2007 when they were covertly removed after an ‘environmental and water safety review’. This was clearly suspicious since they had been operating safely since 1990 and were amongst the first of Horsham’s public works of art. A public outcry was voiced initially by the Horsham Photographer via the Horsham Forum, picked up later by the West Sussex County Times (WSCT). It subsequently emerged that they were removed to gain a little more retail space.
Swan Walk management eventually bowed to public pressure expressed in the Horsham Forum and WSCT and agreed to renovate the swans and return them to their original position. By September 2008, the swans had returned to the shopping centre but were awaiting a new plinth.
But the swans aren’t the only well loved works of art in town that Lorne McKean has created. William Pirie, with his donkey and cart, are very popular in Pirie’s Place. It was clearly designed for children to climb aboard the cart and join Pirie on the front seat. Mr Pirie was the headmaster of Collyers between 1822 and 1868 and he built a row of Victorian Cottages to fund his retirement, naming them Piries Place. The cottages disappeared at some time as yet undetermined and the area, by then known as Burton’s Yard, was redeveloped. The new shopping centre revived the name.
There are more subtle works of art in the town. A series of newspapers coming off the WSCT press is represented near the Carfax Bandstand. It serves as a noticeboard for community events.
The water feature officially called ‘The Rising Universe’ but known locally as Shelley’s Fountain sits at the junction of West Street and Worthing Road. Funded largely by a donation from Sainsbury Properties it was unveiled on November the 13th, 1996. Initially it was unpopular, perhaps because of its unusual appearance. When it was working it was enjoyed by most, especially children, when the rush of seven tonnes of water flooded the base every five minutes. In the summer months the base is bedecked with flowers as part of the Horsham in Bloom campaign. The photograph used here is a winter shot which shows more clearly the whole work.
The fountain was created by Angela Conner who was inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s 1817 poem ‘Mont Blanc’. The question remains about whether a water feature is an appropriate way to remember a poet who died by drowning. From spring 2006 until November 2007 the water was turned off for conservation reasons; through splashes, filtration and evaporation it consumes 800 litres a day despite all attempts to recycle. The pumping mechanism is below the fountain in what used to be the Worthing Road underpass that took pedestrains between what is now Wilkinsons and the Lynd Cross.
Extract from Mont Blanc
The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark – now glittering – now reflecting gloom –
Now lending splendour, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
Of waters, – with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume
In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap for ever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.
Nearby is The Forum. Here you will find two water features although three were promised in a 2002 news release. The first, close to the library is a series of walk-through fountains that are very popular when heatwaves occur. Jets of varying height of water in a grid pattern emerge from the paving. The second resembles a stainless steel funnel on a stick and is secreted behind the cafe near to the Manor of Hewells. Between these two is the Sundial; another work in bronze by Lorne McKean, Edwin Russell and Damien Fennell. It has thirty depictions of Horsham throughout the years. Duplicated sections of this sundial were made as part of the manufacturing process and can be found in Horsham’s Capitol Theatre.
In the park there are a number of sculptures of diverse design; Hidden in the fenced off area by the duck pond is a carving of French limestone by Claire Morris entitled Water Forms, pictured here. Nearby in the trees are two further totem poles entitled The Gateway, carved into wood by Janine Creaye. These works were commissioned by Horsham District Council and funded by Awards for All lottery money. They were part of the Scattered Seeds Project and installed in May 2007.
Still in the park a totem pole has been erected in the children’s play area in front of the pavilions. The area was funded by Southern Water and is themed on saving water. The dragon featured in the legends of St Leonard’s Forest is the reward for finding the centre of the maze near to the bandstand and already has its own feature on this blog. This was belatedly put in place to mark the new millennium. In the sensory garden of Park House there is a sundial with a sun god as the pointer.
The War Memorial in the Carfax has five ‘Celebration of Life’ roundels decorating the outer side of the rear wall, facing the Carfax Bandstand. They were created by Edwin Russell, husband of Lorne McKean. These are shown below from left to right and depict the varying lifeforms on our planet.