New public sculpture divides York opinion: gorgeous and beautiful or jarring eyesore?

How the sculpture might look on the green opposite the Swan pub (not to scale). Photograph © Google Street View
4 Aug 2017 @ 6.15 pm
| Environment

This striking piece of modern art could soon greet visitors to one of York’s buzziest suburbs.

Titled Angel On The Green, the sculpture will be located on the green next to Bishopthorpe Road, if city planners give it the green light.

The artwork is by renowned York sculptor Dan Savage. He is donating it to the city to mark ten years of him working here.

Standing at 2.7m (9ft) tall and made from galvanised and painted steel, it has received a lot of support from the local community – more than 80% were in favour in an online consultation.

But some are objecting to it as “a jarring and incongruous eyesore”. Want to have a say? You have till Monday (August 7) to have make a comment here.

The sculptor

The balconies designed by Dan at the new Hungate apartments
Dan has lived and worked in York for over a decade and decided to donate the Angel to the city to mark 10 years trading in the city through his business, Artstop Studios.

His artworks have been installed in communities across Britain. Locally they include Dan’s Newt Trail at Vangarde shopping centre, his artworks in York Hospital, and his glass balconies for the new Hungate apartments.

“I love Bishopthorpe Road and its vibrant mix of businesses and community,” Dan told YorkMix.

“I wanted to celebrate this mix in a new sculpture that also references the area’s rich heritage.

“However I wanted to use contemporary materials to show that the area is not stuck in the past but is looking ahead to a bright future.”

Reflects Bishy Road life

This shows the Angel to scale – it’s 2.5m in height
Dan said the Angel sculpture is almost complete. He explained the vision behind the artwork:

My vision is to create a sculpture with a multi-faceted design which changes depending on where it is viewed from, reflecting the many facets of life, work, family, friends, business and leisure – the very elements which make up the thriving Bishopthorpe Road area.

One part of the steel will be cut away and inserted in the space will be a laser cut tracery reflecting the Yorkshire Heart window of York Minster.

This reflects the ecclesiastical nature of the area, says Dan – shown in road names like Bishopgate Street, Nunnery Lane, St Benedict Road, and the precinct wall of the Benedictine nunnery of St. Clement which was founded in 1130, by Archbishop Thurstan.

Dan’s newts at the Vangarde shopping centre in York

And it ties in to the ‘I love Bishy Road’ slogan.

Where did the name Angel On The Green come from? “The name is still only a working title, as people thought the design looked angel-like. It may be used for the final sculpture – we’ll have to wait and see.”

Dan said an artwork like this, if privately commissioned, would be worth about £20,000.

The response – positive

The red dot shows the planned location of the sculpture. Map © Google Maps

“The response has been great so far. The ward meetings were really positive with near unanimous support for the project,” Dan said.

“I would never expect to please everyone, as art can be very subjective, but having had such a positive response so far is very pleasing.”

The proposal was circulated online and via email to members of the public and Bishopthorpe Road Traders, receiving more than 80% support.

An even higher approval rating was secured when the plan was posted twice on Facebook, with these among the comments:

I do really like the insertion of the tracery from the Minster window, and think it would be very striking – and would provide a nice focus being well located on an otherwise empty and (often) relatively unused piece of green space.

– David K Smith

I think we’re really lucky to be offered this. The design is excellent for our area and for York

– Linda Terry

Gorgeous addition to the Green

– Christine Boyd

The response – negative

A team of technicians creating Dan’s sculpture at a workshop in Bradford

The Bishopthorpe Road artwork has been under discussion for around two years. But only now has it been submitted to City of York Council for planning permission.

At the time of writing 11 people have submitted formal objections to the plans. Here’s a selection of their comments:

A steel structure placed in a prominent location in this area of Victorian brick housing would be grossly out of keeping with its environment. It would be jarring and incongruous, in effect an eyesore

– Mark Coates

I believe that the statue, which I think is poor, dated, out-of-keeping with the area and frankly somewhat odd would in no way be of benefit

– Tom Adams

Any sculpture and especially one that is so out at odds with its environment affords an opportunity for graffiti, vandalism and urination, leading inevitably to it becoming an eyesore and a reason to avoid the area rather than to visit it

– Jonathan Fisk

If planners approve the sculpture it could be installed relatively quickly. Dan said: “It would take a few weeks to finish the sculpture, and a few more to plan the installation and put the footings in.

“I certainly would hope to get it installed before Christmas.”