Chichester sculptor offers Shelley memorial design

Chichester sculptor Vincent Gray is in the running to be chosen to create a lasting public memorial to the poet Shelley “for public enjoyment, inspiration and education and to commemorate Horsham’s most famous citizen.”
Vincent Gray's design (contributed pic)Vincent Gray's design (contributed pic)
Vincent Gray's design (contributed pic)

Vincent is one of four sculptors whose designs are now under consideration and on display in Horsham Museum. A decision is expected in April as to which of the four will eventually be realised in Horsham Park, the setting for the memorial.

As Vincent says: “The park is a beautiful open space where one can relax and enjoy the outdoors, perhaps after visiting the museum.”

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Vincent is keen to maximise his chances: “In an effort to receive maximum likes on the Shelley Memorial Project Facebook page and garner support from my fans I intend to run a lottery with the first prize being a John Keats maquette, priced at £3,000 (Vincent is the creator of the much-admired Keats figure in Chichester).

“All my supporters and fellow Cicestrians need do is like my design on the SMP Facebook page and collect their ticket from Vincent Gray Studios through the course of March or by appointment on 07773 581806. Proof of liking with a screenshot secures your ticket. The winning ticket regardless of the competition outcome will be announced in May.”

As Vincent says: “The commission went public a year or so ago and I have come to learn that 30 artists responded, four of who were shortlisted and I am one of the four. We were invited to put together a 2D design and how we would realise the brief. That was about nine months ago and now we've had a presentation showing our designs. They also wanted all the supporting documentation which is quite a lot. They wanted graphics and your statement and your thinking behind it. The four designs have now gone public on Facebook and are going public in Horsham Museum. They are inviting the public to respond and that response will be a consideration in their selecting a winner. At the presentation we had council representatives and the Shelley memorial project people and also one or two other experts.

“They wanted you to satisfy the brief, that is to represent Shelley and it has got to reach out to the broader public in some way. I think they were very sensitive to something that would be vandal-proof and appropriate and it's got to be to scale. It is quite a vast area and you would approach the sculpture from quite a distance. Mine is going to be four metres tall and it has also got a footprint getting on for four metres.

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“When I was first approached they said to me ‘You are a figurative sculptor but we are not necessarily looking for a figurative piece.’ So I felt I was steered away from that. They were asking for something that felt more contemporary and they asked if I had done any more contemporary work. I was able to show them that I had and that sealed the deal.”

As for the thinking: “I wanted something that was monumental, and that suggested stone to my mind. I had in mind a relatively tall solid pillar with the sculptural element sitting on top of that, and in order to satisfy their steering me away from representational figurative work I came up with two ideas both of which featured a quill. I then narrowed that down in my own mind to a hand and a quill. I have been quite influenced by the work of Carl Milles, the Swedish sculptor. You can see there are similarities there.

“There were 15 people at the meeting where I did the print presentation and I'm rather assuming that they will be the people making the decision, taking into account the public response. If the public is saying that they want number one, then they will perhaps take that into account. They make their decision in April.”

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