Public Art in Swindon: Hey Diddle Diddle

Meeting Hey Diddle Diddle

We’re now leaving behind White Horse Pacified to move onto WSSW: Part 4 – Hey Diddle Diddle. This took Kim and I around some bits of what I term ‘proper’ places. By that I mean houses and areas that have clearly been here much longer than all this ‘new’ (70s, 80s 90s) development of Swindon.

The walk took us down Old Shaw Lane and right past Lower Shaw Farm – home of Swindon’s Literature festival amongst other things and close to the Nine Elms pub. It also took us via Shaw Village centre where, as it was a warm sunny evening, we stopped for ice-cream. Yet another reason why this walk took us hours!

Of course, should the fancy take you to do this walk during the day-time, The Village Inn at Shaw would make a good stopping point for lunch and/or a pint being approximately on the mid-way point of this walk.

So anyway, suitably refreshed with ice-cream and a sit-down we ventured on to the next sculpture on the list which is ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’.

It’s described thus: 1992 – Artist: Vega Bermejo. Material: Portland Stone. Project details: Commissioned by Thamesdown Borough Council through the Percent for Art Policy and sponsored by Clarke Holmes Ltd. This charming sculpture in a domestic setting depicts the popular nursery rhyme.’

Hey Diddle Diddle
Hey Diddle Diddle – the front view – the cat and the fiddle

Well, by this time we are getting closer to where I live but I still wasn’t making the connection. Talk about not really ‘seeing’ or knowing what is under your nose. It’s shameful. For twenty years I’ve been passing this thing on the 1A bus home from town and never realized. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had the thought ‘well, fancy having a huge stone cat in your front garden’ and similar – because it’s quite literally in a front garden in The Prinnells (between Shaw/Middleaze and Grange Park) Oh dear. Though to be fair, as the bus swings by, the only bit of the sculpture you can see is the cat. But readers, this is so much more then a giant cat. Stop and take the time to examine it and you will see.

A nursery rhyme in sculpture form

As the descriptions says and the name implies, this sculpture is all about the well known nursery rhyme ‘Hey Diddle Diddle the cat and the fiddle…’   The roadside end of it is indeed the cat’s face but it’s only on closer inspection that you can see the fiddle. The other end has the cow’s face on it and the two sides depict the dish and the spoon, the moon and the little dog laughing to see such fun. I rather suspect he was laughing at me for not knowing what was under my nose. And quite right too.

So anyway Kim and I thoroughly examined it and took photographs. Like so many of these sculptures it’s in need of a bit of TLC. Just a brush and some warm water would piff it up no end. If it was in my front garden I think I might be doing that. And perhaps encouraging visitors and offering cream teas!  🙂 Though before I get too judgemental I ought to consider that there might be some sort of clause prohibiting that.

As with all the others so far, this is a really interesting and intriguing sculpture. I love the idea of it – representing a nursery rhyme in this sort of setting – as of course nursery rhymes and domesticity go together. But hey – don’t take my word for it – go and see it for yourself.

The rear end - cow - of the Hey Diddle Diddle sculpture.

Here is a link to a map and some descriptions of the sculptures: The Sculpture Tour West Swindon. And see all my writings about the West Swindon Sculpture walk here.

Next on the list is ‘Nexus’ and this was another surprise. Until then folks…