Harlow Sculpture Town

Harlow Sculpture Town

In 1953 Harlow Art Trust set out with a mission to beautify the post-war New Town of Harlow by commissioning, purchasing and siting sculpture across its public spaces. The founding members of the Trust were uncompromising in the belief that access to high quality art should be more than mere decoration: it should be part of the social fabric of everyday life and owned by the people who live and work around it. The project attracted some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Elisabeth Frink.

Today Harlow is home to an exceptional and growing collection of over 100 public artworks and a community of people passionate about its sculptural heritage with ambitious plans for the future. 8 of these sculptures can be found at Water Gardens and we encourage you to visit. 

Information about the 8 sculptures can be found below and you can follow the trails and learn more here.

14. Boar

Elizabeth Frink, 1957 - bronze

Elisabeth Frink was a sculptor said in her obituary to have three essential themes in her work: “the nature of Man; the ‘horseness’ of horses; and the divine in human form.” Sir Frederick Gibberd visited Frink’s studio in 1957 when Frink was 27, and commissioned Boar in cement. This was later replaced by the more durable bronze. Two works on paper, including the original sketch for Boar, are on permanent display in the Gibberd Gallery.

17. Standing Boy

Karel Vogel, 1954 - bronze

Standing Boy was purchased by the Trust in 1960. It was stolen from the Water Gardens in 1967.

19. Eve

Auguste Rodin, 1882 - bronze

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) is often referred to as the father of modern sculpture. Eve was acquired with the influence of Sir Philip Hendy, trustee of Harlow Art Trust and then director of the National Gallery. The sculpture has earned the nickname ‘Freezing Cold Frida’ on account of its appearance in wet and cold weather. The sculpture was originally conceived by Rodin as part of his monumental work The Gates of Hell, loosely based on Dante Alighieri’s 14th century poem The Divine Comedy.

24. Seven Reliefs/ Mosaics

William Mitchell, 1963 - Croncrete, pigmented epoxy and polyester resin

William Mitchell was born in 1925 and is best known for his large scale murals and public works of art rendered in concrete. Seven Reliefs/Mosaics was commissioned by Sir Frederick Gibberd for the town’s Water Gardens. The gardens were designed by Gibberd and opened in 1963. They are listed Grade II on English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens.

26. Heraldic Panel

William Mitchell, 1961 - concrete

In the 1950s William Mitchell worked in the London County Council Architects Department to design and produce decorative works for the many new developments springing up across the city. Demand for public artworks during the post war period was such that he was able to set up his own company in the 1960s. At one point he employed over 40 skilled craftsmen and artists. Four Heraldic Panels were originally sited on Harlow’s first town hall, which was demolished in 2004.

28. Upright Motive No.2

Henry Moore, 1955-6 - bronze

Henry Moore (1898-1986) made a series of twelve Upright Motives in the 1950s. They are inspired by organic forms Moore would habitually collect while out walking on his estate in Perry Green in Hertfordshire. Other sculptures in the series can be found on the west coast of Scotland, in the Netherlands and Texas in the USA.

57. Bird

Hebe Comerford, 1983 - Metal/Bronze

Hebe Comerford was born in Dublin in 1948 and studied at Sir John Cass, Hornsey and Wimbledon Schools of Art in London. Bird has stood in the Water Gardens since 1985. Another version of this work can be found by one of the ponds in the grounds of Sir Frederick and Lady Patricia Gibberd’s former home, the Gibberd Garden.

75. Ripple

Diane MacLean, 2004 - Stainless steel

Diane Maclean’s Ripple was inspired by the artist’s quest to find a sculptural equivalent of water in which there was no actual water present. It is comprised of three polished stainless steel columns with colour created by an oxide layer on the polished surface. These react to the daylight, varying with time and season.