Golders Hill Park, one of the recreation areas looked after by the City of London Corporation, adjoins onto Hampstead Heath, also conserved by that body. Among the beautiful trees and gardens are a few pieces of modern sculpture:
Bainbridge Copnall's Water Baby Fountain.
A naked plump infant, in the style of cherubs of the previous century, surrounded by several fish and cast in bronze. It stands in the middle of a pond, as a focus of a beautiful walled garden, and is fitted with spouts for a fountain. The group is supported on a stylised water lily or some such plant. Bainbridge Copnall was the sculptor, a significant artist of the mid-20th Century, known for his Boy David on Chelsea Embankment, and various architectural sculpture including for the RIBA building in Portland Place. Although he favoured figure sculpture, it is often in a very modern idiom, and this piece, despite the tubular limbs which place the date firmly after the 1930s (the date is in fact 1950), is rather traditional for Copnall. It was originally sited in Victoria Park in nearby Finchley, apparently, but was at Golders Hill by the mid-1970s.
Diogenes, by Mark Batten, 1950s
Mark Batten's statue of Diogenes.
Generally referred to by the modern spelling, the name inscribed on the base of this work is spelt ‘Diogenis’, The figure of the ancient Greek philosopher, nude but for a thin band of drapery, is shown seated on a rock, raising a bowl of water to his lips – it refers to the story of this being his only possession, which he gave up on seeing a boy drink from his cupped hands. The face is archetypical ancient Greek, rather than with character, and rather lets down the rest of the figure, of which the forearms at least are well conceived. Mark Batten, one-time President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, did not produce much, it seems, and I am not aware of other public works by him, bar a portrait head of Hull Grundy.
1983 is the date I have seen on the Web, though I was surprised as I thought it had been there half a decade earlier. A modernist work like the junction of two pipes, it is maybe 10 ft high, and popular with small children as a hopeless climbing frame. Wendy Taylor is known for a number of geometric pieces on the grand scale.
Gazebo, by Wendy Taylor.
This statue of a lightly-clad girl, who has taken off her sandals to relax and catch the sun on her long legs, epitomises many summer visitors to the park. Modern in treatment, down to the sunken base rather than a proper plinth, the statue is graceful in form and pose, though the face is less than ideal. The statue was donated by the sculptor, Patricia Finch, who lived locally. There is another public work by her in London, a bust of mother and child as a memorial to Andrew Mellor in Queen Square, but the Golders Hill girl is by far the better work.
Patricia Finch's Golders Green Girl, or Girl with Sandals.
As with other public spaces, Golders Hill Park occasionally hosts visiting pieces of modern sculpture, of which the largest in recent years was a group of dinosaurs by the Chapman brothers.
The Victorian bandstand is noted here as a reminder that Golders Hill Park, once the grounds of a private mansion, became a public park in Victorian times, so had to have this quintessential furnishing.
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London sculpture // Sculptors
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