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Wall art: The new sculpture trail springing up in seaside town

PUBLISHED: 15:49 26 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:53 30 March 2020

A life-size statue of a fisher girl is the first in a 20-piece sculpure trail set to spring up around Great Yarmouth's town wall in the next ten years Picture: Azalia Sargsyan

A life-size statue of a fisher girl is the first in a 20-piece sculpure trail set to spring up around Great Yarmouth's town wall in the next ten years Picture: Azalia Sargsyan

Archant

The first in series of 20 sculptures has sprung up in Great Yarmouth, making a good walk even more enlightening.

Great Yarmouth's medieval town wall is one of the best preserved and most complete in England. A sculpture trail is taking shape around it creating an outdoor gallery Picture: James BassGreat Yarmouth's medieval town wall is one of the best preserved and most complete in England. A sculpture trail is taking shape around it creating an outdoor gallery Picture: James Bass

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,

A fisher girl statue is already making people curious about Great Yarmouth's heritage. A family pasing by were happy to stop and pose for this picture before social distancing and coronavirus Picture: Azalia SargsyanA fisher girl statue is already making people curious about Great Yarmouth's heritage. A family pasing by were happy to stop and pose for this picture before social distancing and coronavirus Picture: Azalia Sargsyan

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.

A new statue is helping people to connect with their heritage in Great Yarmouth. The fisher girl is one of 20 planned for the town around the old town wall. She was created by Bridget Heriz Picture: Darren BarkerA new statue is helping people to connect with their heritage in Great Yarmouth. The fisher girl is one of 20 planned for the town around the old town wall. She was created by Bridget Heriz Picture: Darren Barker

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.

MORE: Artist blends photographs to create ‘new’ views of town’s Rows in set of giant panels

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.

A section of Great Yarmouth's town wall sanctioned by Henry III, dated  February 1955 Picture: Archant libraryA section of Great Yarmouth's town wall sanctioned by Henry III, dated February 1955 Picture: Archant library

“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.

The remains of the medieval town wall in Great Yarmouth which was started in 1261 to enclose and protect the town  Picture: James BassThe remains of the medieval town wall in Great Yarmouth which was started in 1261 to enclose and protect the town Picture: James Bass

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.

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