Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University

David Mayne
'Bear', 2005
Botanical Gardens
welded and rusted mild steel

In the Bear Pit, Botanical Gardens. (A-Z p98 4B)

A lifesize standing bear, c. 2m high, with front paws dangling at its side. The metal has been deliberately allowed to rust so that the figure is realistically brown.
At the feet of the bear are four lines from one of the riddles that tempt visitors to the Gardens to explore various features and views within them. The riddles were written by local author and poet, Berlie Doherty, and have been incorporated into a number of artworks within the Botanical Gardens. Lettering by Matt Fairley, who also installed the piece with the artist.

The sculpture was commissioned by Sheffield City Council for the Riddle Trail project initiated by the city's Off the Shelf Festival of Writing and Reading in 1999 in collaboration with Sheffield Botanical Gardens. A partnership composed of the Friends of the Botanical Gardens, Sheffield Town Trust, Sheffield City Council and the University of Sheffield has been responsible for the restoration of the gardens since 1997.
The Bear
was installed on 3 March 2005.

The bear pit was the home of two captive bears in 1850's.
The original concept was for this bear to be reaching upwards, but this had to be changed for Safety considerations; the figure was considered to be too close to viewers looking into the pit and might invite spectators to try to climb onto it.

Sources: Conversations with the artist [3.3.05 and 23.3.05]

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Last updated October 5, 2006