The Spirit of Barrow

April 11, 2008 at 11:43 | Posted in Barrow, statuary | 9 Comments

The Spirit of Barrow

Right at the central crossroads of Barrow’s shopping centre, where Dalton Road, Crellin Street and the awful, modern, could-be-anywhere Portland Walk (which I will show when I can bring myself to) meet, is the huge bronze sculpture The Spirit of Barrow. It’s another piece by Chris Kelly, who gave us the Willie Horne (qv) statue.

One of the four figures facing different ways from the crossroads is a young man with a sledgehammer, all rippling muscles, noble good looks and socialist realism (or perhaps he dropped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting celebrating the dignity of labour.) The other three are rather grittier: an electrician, a welder, and a fitter complete with pipe wrench who is my favourite, which is why I’ve chosen to focus on him. I like him because he’s such a quintessential Barrovian. Especially the face. And the hunched-but-full-of-purpose gait.


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  1. une très belle sculpture.

    A beautiful sculpture.

  2. Bien sûr Olivier. Merci

  3. By any standards that is a suoerb sculpture. The photo is also superb as is the web site.

  4. How big is “huge” ?

  5. I think ‘huge’ might be a hyperbole but larger than life-size anyway.

  6. The most disappointing aspect of the statue is the lack of a white collar worker. Leaving aside any moral qualms about was and still is built in Vickers (or whatever it’s called) it is the home of some of the most advanced technology around. That technology is the result of brain as opposed to brawn and it is very sad that that aspect appears to be have been ignored.

  7. Jeff, in a way I agree with you. I spent most of my working life in computing, and my dad worked in the drawing office at Vickers (and my mum was an admin worker in the traffic section). But it is good to see, in what is essentially a blue-collar town, a fitting memorial to manual workers.

    There are a number of plaques around town, devoted to engineers. I expect I’ll cover them before too long.

  8. […] was asking, when I featured the Spirit of Barrow monument, why there was no commemoration of the white-collar workers who contributed to […]

  9. Apropos my previous reply… a classically trained professional Artist of 40 odd years experience, I wish I could say that I find this example of public sculpture inspiring, but I don’t. If so-called contemporary Art in Britain is at an all-time low, e.g. the awful Tracey Emins and the even more ghastly and talentless Damien Hirst, then I have to say that contemporary public sculpture is even worse than it’s painting equivalent.

    Something magnificent and monumental should have been erected to the great Willie Horne in his homeland of Barrow, something that brought people to Barrow just to see, but instead I find this somewhat weedy, pedestrian, arms and legs all over the place substitute. An opportunity missed I feel but no less than appears all over the country. How sad yet predictable in these philistine times where dumbing down has been successful beyond it’s proponents wildest dreams.

    Equally, whether blue collar or white, a significant sculpture could have been created to the workers of Barrow but….a man with a flat cap and an adjustable spanner? Just in case you didn’t get the allusion.
    What ever happened to subtlety and good taste?

    Cynical? I wish it were just that. I felt I had to make a comment simply for the sake of balance.

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