Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University
PUBLIC ART IN SHEFFIELD

Shirazeh Houshiary
title - not known
Status: not built
Fargate
steel and gold leaf



Location:
At the top of Fargate in what is now called Town Hall Square. (A-Z p.5 4E)

Commission:
Sheffield Town Trust.

Comment:
The Sheffield Town Trust, established in 1297, was for over 500 years one of the main agents of local government and as such responsible for building the first two Town Halls, supplying water, building roads and installing street lighting. Its municipal responsibilities gradually passed to the local authorities and it now acts as a charitable grant-giving body supporting a wide range of good causes. It is believed to be the oldest charity still operating in the country.

To commemorate its 700th anniversary, the Sheffield Town Trust organised a competition for a sculpture in Town Hall Square to replace the Goodwin Fountain which has been relocated in the Peace Gardens. An accompanying leaflet stated that "The Sheffield Town Trust has applied for National Lottery funds to help with its nationally significant commission....."

The Arts Council of England announced on 1 October 1998 a further 35 projects across the country which had been awarded Lottery funds totalling 9,818,381 million. Amongst these was:
"Sheffield Town Trust: Grant awarded: 365,000. - - - Total project cost: 490,000. This award is towards a major sculpture for Town Hall Square, part of Sheffield's programme of public art commissioning." [1]

In the past the site at the top of Fargate has been home to two other sculptures, Queen Victoria and the Jubilee Memorial (both now moved to Endcliffe Park). The project was organised to capture the imaginations of the people of Sheffield. It would also create a focal point at the top of Fargate in Town Hall Square which has been remodelled as part of the "Heart of the City" scheme.

In 1997 a national advertisement produced nearly 100 applications from artists who wished to be considered for this project.

Three artists were selected to produce maquettes for public exhibition and consultation before the final selection process. These artists were Shirazeh Houshiary, Mike Lyons and Bill Woodrow. An exhibition of their "Sculpture Proposals for Town Hall Square" was held at the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield from December 13th 1997 to January 24th 1998.

The exhibition at the Graves Art Gallery canvassed visitors' views on the three proposals. From the outset local press opinion was solidly against the piece. A lot of local sentiment was focussed on the Goodwin Fountain which was to be removed and redesignated as the new fountain in the Peace Gardens, and which subsequently happened anyway. These events took place not long before local government elections and the majority party in the Council, who subsequently lost heavily at the same elections, were understandably unwilling to oppose what they perceived as popular opinion against the piece. The suggestion was made that the piece be re-located, but the artist , who conceived the work as site specific, and the Town Trust were unwilling to do this.

Negotiations for a solution to this impasse were sought but eventually the project was abandoned.


References.
Much of this information comes directly from a leaflet produced to publicise the exhibition at the Graves Art Gallery.

[1] from the Arts Council website at http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/press/oct98.html



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