Wall art: The new sculpture trail springing up in seaside town
PUBLISHED: 15:49 26 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:53 30 March 2020
The first in series of 20 sculptures has sprung up in Great Yarmouth, making a good walk even more enlightening.
A bronze fisher girl stands against the spectacular backdrop of the old town wall, helping to make the most of the often over-looked ancient monument, and creating an “outdoor gallery.”
Over the next ten years the life-size sculpture will be joined by some 19 other art works, forming a trail along the 1.2 mile structure, second only to York in completeness.
The aim is that people will stretch their legs and add to their knowledge of the town’s glorious maritime past.
As well as helping to show off the wall the figure is championing the role of women in Yarmouth’s fishing industry, and their contribution in the workplace generally,
At the turn of the 20th century around 6,000 women arrived in the autumn for the herring season to gut and pack the fish.
Most of them were from coastal villages in Scotland following the herring fleets down the east coast.
Their role is being celebrated in the solitary figure created by sculptor Bridget Heriz and “printed” using 3D technology at the Mckinney foundry in Fakenham.
The site in Blackfriars Road is close to a number of smoke houses in an area where the herring were prepared and gutted by fisher girls.
It is also next to the now demolished Victoria Gardens, which was a 19th century garden and sculpture park, filled with neo-classical sculptures.
Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust (GYPT), which is behind the initiative, plans to install two sculptures each year for the next ten years.
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A spokesman said: “This will provide a number benefits including encouraging people to walk, enabling a connection with art and heritage and supporting the emerging cultural tourism within the town.
“It is hoped that this plan will evolve with the support of Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) and the cultural board into a wider sculpture trail around the town linking the town together and connectivity between town centre and seafront.
“After the ten year scheme Great Yarmouth will be regarded as a place to experience incredible works of sculpture in an outdoor town-wide gallery.”
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Grants from the Coastal Revival Fund, GYPT and Historic England and GYBC funded the repairs to the wall.
A private donation of £5000 was made towards the sculpture.
Where women worked
Other employment opportunities available to women in Great Yarmouth’s past included the beatsters who mended the nets, working at Grout’s Silk Factory, Johnsons and Sons later known as Yarmouth Stores, Millars Slippers, Birds Eye, and Erie Resistor - which at its peak in 1972 employed over 10pc of the town’s labour force.
Along with tourism, retail, nursing and landwork, there used to be plenty of work for young women on leaving school.
Employment offered some independence, a lively social life, and money to spend in the town.
About Bridget Heriz
Bridget has been living and working as a sculptor in Great Yarmouth since 2002.
Her other public art commission in the town is the Mother and Child carved in York stone at the Nelson Medical Centre in Pasteur Road.
Her work has been widely exhibited across East Anglia, also in London and shows in Russia, Belgium, and Finland.
The foundry process
The foundry pattern was digitally printed from a 3D record of the original plaster created in the sculptor’s studio.
The pattern substitutes for the wax copy of the original sculpture traditionally used in the lost wax process of bronze casting, and thus has the advantage of avoiding all the cost of mould making.
The McKinney Foundry is one of the first to specialise in this modern technique.
• An official unveiling and gallery exhibition due to be held in March have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.