Public art to commemorate pandemic's impact on Shropshire

The pandemic's impact on the people of Shropshire is to be commemorated with a unique publicly-funded sculpture.

Paul Kennedy with the 1/5 version of the artwork on display at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
Paul Kennedy with the 1/5 version of the artwork on display at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.

The artwork is being created by Bridgnorth-based artist Paul Kennedy, with a smaller version – a maquette – going on display around the county over the next few months.

When the full size version is complete, the artwork will be placed in Shrewsbury Abbey.

The proposal for the artistic commemoration is being led by the county's Lord Lieutenant, Anna Turner, who said she hoped it would provide "a fitting tribute which will last long into the future".

The final version of the maquette

The artwork will include the fingerprints of county residents and there will be a chance for people to have theirs included before it is cast at the Abbey from September 24 to 26.

The fundraising for the project, which is being run with the assistance of the Shropshire Rural Communities Charity, has a target of £16,000 and is by public subscription.

But there will also be a chance to enter a draw to win the 1/5th scale copy of the sculpture by buying a ticket for £100, with the number of tickets limited to 125.

Mrs Turner, said: "Many people have lost loved ones and everyone has had to make extraordinary sacrifices in their daily lives and in their businesses. Communities on all levels have pulled together to get us through.

"From the dedicated work of health and care staff, through frontline workers in a wide variety of roles, to many people helping their neighbours, our communities have risen to the challenge.

"To remember the people who have suffered and sadly died and to thank everyone for their enormous effort I believe that this beautiful sculpture created by Paul Kennedy will be a fitting tribute which will last long into the future."

Bronze in ceramic shells at 1180 C as part of the process

Mr Kennedy said he was thrilled to have been asked to tackle such an important piece of work.

He said: "I am delighted to have been asked by the Lord Lieutenant to create this sculpture. It is a very exciting but moving commission.

"The sculpture is created to be reflective as well as projecting hope, the main circle represents the divine life force or spirit that keeps our reality in motion.

"The void between the two halves is filled with coloured glass to represent a rainbow and is the symbol of hope and promise for a better future.

Paul Kennedy with the 1/5 version of the artwork

"On the concave side you will be faced with a warm reflective glow allowing for inner self reflection. The light from the rainbow bathing you in hope and promise of a better future & a feeling of collective joy and sense of community.

"The bronze sculpture will raised and grounded on Shropshire stone with a pink hue and tool marks from the original stone work in the Abbey will be replicated onto three sides of the base."

People will be able to see the maquette of the sculpture on display at the following venues: Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, from July 22-August 6; Oswestry Library, from August 9-20; Whitchurch Library, from August 23-September 3; Ludlow Library and SMCC, from September 6-17; Weston Park's Granary Art Gallery, September 20 onwards.

People can contribute to the fundraising appeal at virginmoneygiving.com/fund/covid19sculptureappeal or buy tickets for the raffle at virginmoneygiving.com/fund/covid19sculptureraffle

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