Chesterfield’s sculptural heritage

Few people will realise that in Chesterfield there is a vast collection of public art installations to rival even the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Anyone driving into the town on the A61 can’t fail to notice The Growth – Melanie Jackson’s vast work on the Horns Bridge Roundabout near B&Q – but many of the other works people will probably walk past every day without even realising what they are and why they are there.

There are more than 60 of them scattered in streets and parks, outside prominent buildings and in shopping centres, and they all form part of the Chesterfield Art Trail.

Guy Badham, a professional photographer based in the town, has taken a series of pictures of some of those that have captured his eye since he discovered the trail and he has compiled these for artsbeat.

One of the most significant is Rosewall by Dame Barbara Hepworth which is at the Royal Mail building on West Bar and pictured above.

Close by is Poise by Angela Conner, a one-time assistant of Hepworth, which is one of the largest and most impressive works in the town. Sadly it is now enclosed by a metal fence.

On the Vicar Lane shopping centre there are sculptures by Scottish installation artist David Mach, a member of the Royal Academy who has been nominated for the Turner Prize and created the Millennium Dome National Portrait collage.

A gargoyle like figure, right, and standing angels cling to the walls of the building. The artist says he likes to think of them as a kind of myth, legend or lucky charm for the building.

Outside Chesterfield Station is a statue of George Stephenson, who is buried inside Chesterfield’s Holy Trinity Church, by Stephen Hicklin

Mollusc by Nottingham-based artist Liz Lemon can be found off Hady Hill and is known as ‘The Snail’. It’s spiralling form echoes the casings of the huge water-turbines once made at the Markham works and the fossils found in the coal measures.

A System of Support and Balance by Paul Lewthwaite was commissioned for the new Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court. A pile of book shapes act as a foundation for the sculpture and archways and columns, seen around Chesterfield town centre, influenced the composition.

The stone carving by Mike Grevatte at the Ravenside Retail Park reflects the flow of the nearby River Hipper.

The Puppy in The Yards was designed as part of a series of works including the Gloved Hands by artist Geoff Wood, who was commissioned to lead a cultural renaissance in the town four years ago. It is based on the fact that in the 1800s the area was known as the Dog Kennels because of the slum conditions.

One of the most recent works is by Wirksworth-based wood sculptor Andrew Frost, who has carved a bee out of oak which now sits on top of the stump of a storm-damaged tree next to the  St Mary’s Church.

If you want to find out more about the trail Chesterfield Council has created a website dedicated to it, with a map and details about each sculpture and the artists. Go to http://www.chesterfieldarttrail.co.uk