Midhurst councillors look for site for 'amazing' sculpture of Dante searching for Paradise

Midhurst Town Council is looking for a suitable location in the town for a statue of 14th century poet Dante.

At a community and environment committee meeting on Monday (September 13), town councillors discussed options for placing the sculpture of the Italian writer and philosopher, known for his epic — The Divine Comedy.

Cocking based sculptor Philip Jackson is gifting the bronze-cast sculpture to the town because, he said, ‘Midhurst is Paradise’.

Cllr Mark Purves, chairman of the community and environment committee, described the town council's gratitude to Philip Jackson for the donation, and said he and his colleagues are now working 'very hard' to bring the plans to fruition.

The top half of the sculpture, designed by sculptor Philip Jackson

He said: "Philip Jackson is gifting the statue to the town which Harvey Tordoff [vice-chairman of the Midhurst Society] has been liaising with Philip about.

"It's a significant piece of work and his work is world-renowned so we want to make sure it is in the right location.

"We are absolutely delighted and honoured that he is giving us a piece of work like that and we are working very hard to make it happen.

"The challenge we have is that we don't own lots of land so we have got to work with landowners to try and make that all happen.

"We have identified a site of preference and we are starting discussions with stakeholders."

The town council has its eyes on a patch of land at South Ponds, which is owned by Chichester District Council, and cllr Purves said the town council now need to demonstrate there is public support for the project.

Cllr Jeanette Sutton said: "As a town council we are thrilled, delighted and honoured to be offered this amazing gift from a world-renowned sculptor.

"It will be a lasting legacy which will attract tourists and will look wonderful."

Cllr Sutton went on to emphasise the significance of the role Dante played in influencing writers and artists for centuries.

"Philip obviously really admires the man who around 1300 made changes to writing and poetry which still affect writers to this day."

Following the announcement in February this year, Philip Jackson told this newspaper: “The sculpture is of Dante having found paradise and I do agree with him – it’s a lovely town.”