Postwar public art treasures in need of protection

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Postwar public art treasures in need of protection
2MS Series No. 1 by Bernard Schottlander, a Grade II listed sculpture of welded steel in Milton Keynes / Photograph: Patricia Payne

Works of art designed for ‘brave new world’ after second world war among those listed by Historic England and now on show to highlight their value

A hulking, imperious Guy the gorilla in south London’s Crystal Palace park; a stoic Winston Churchill watching traffic in Woodford Green, north London; a heroic embodiment of British miners originally installed on a roundabout in St Helens, Merseyside – just some ­examples of Britain’s treasured postwar public sculptures.

Others reside on housing estates, shopping centres and university campuses. All aim to bring some life and some sparkle to the often dreary ordinariness of what surrounds them.

Now, on the advice of Historic England, 41 of these artworks are being given the extra protection of a Grade II or Grade II-listed status.

Roger Bowdler, director of listing at Historic England – the body that took over the listing, heritage protection and grant-making powers of the old English Heritage last year – said they were all works of art that deserved protection. “These sculptures were commissioned and created for everybody and have become a precious national collection of art which we can all share,” he said. “They enrich our lives, bring art to everyone and deserve celebration.”

The sculptures were meant to bring public spaces back to life after the second world war as authorities began to repair and rebuild shattered towns and cities. […]

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