At the end of part five of this series, Kim and I had reached Nexus at Freshbrook, at which point we called it a day as we were ready for dinner. We’d been out for hours and had a great time but had still only visited five out of the seven sculptures itemised on the tour.

Sculpture of family

The Watchers – Toothill

Next up on the list after ‘Nexus’ is ‘The Watchers’ at Toothill:  ‘Artist: Carleton Attwood. Material: Cement Fondue. Project details: Funded by R.S. McColl and E.H.Bradley Building Projects Ltd. The sculpture represents guardian figures looking over the community.’  And, as you can see in the picture, they are still there, still quietly watching.

Leaving Toothill, the tour takes you to ‘Looking to the Future’ near Ashingotn House and the West Swindon Centre. I’ve written about that one elsewhere in this blog so will leave that one behind and move on.

The document and map my friend and I used actually starts and ends at the Link Cente and has this to say: ‘…. you may care to look up at the murals. And what can you find out about Cassandra – an eighth sculpture – standing on her head above The Mall?

Find the map here: The Sculpture Tour West Swindon

Now I’m assuming this means the actual sports centre rather than the West Swindon centre itself. I went in there and saw a mural – see picture – but have no idea if it’s the one to which the tour guide refers. Moreover, I’m not the most observant of people but I haven’t seen any Cassandra.  For info, in Greek mythology Cassandra is the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy whose beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. So what happened to Cassandra I wonder? Perhaps she got fed up of being up-side down. I think I might.

mural on wall of sports centre

Mural in Swindon Link Centre

Anyway dear readers, that concludes the West Swindon sculpture tour/walk. It’s a wonderfully diverse collection of public art encompassing film stars, nursery rhymes and 21st century archeological artefacts.  As I mentioned in the first post, the tour blurb says this 5 mile walk can be done in two hours. And I’m sure it can. But this is a walk that you can make as much or as little of as you want. It’s a good activity with a family as there are play parks along the way – these are partly responsible for Kim and I taking so long about it. That and the outdoor gym behind Shaw Ridge – see ‘How the Mighty Fall’. Shaw Village Centre is approximately half-way so lunch at the Village Inn could be incorporated – or a pint at the very least!

For the cyclists out there, incorporate it into a bike ride – I haven’t looked at this in detail but I daresay the Sustrans cycle routes in the town would cover some or even all of this tour. Ditto with the Ramblers mapped walks.  Swindon has some amazing walking and cycle paths – it’s on  Sustrans Route 45 which goes from Salisbury right up to Chester – and these and other sculptures around the town must surely add another dimension?

These, and all the public art we have here in Swindon, are a wonderful thing – just amazing – and I can’t help but feel that they are under-valued, under-promoted and un-loved. Is this sculpture tour not a tourism resource being badly and sadly wasted? It’s got parks, play areas, big open spaces, pubs and even hotels along its route.  The ONLY information I could find about these sculptures as an entity was the plain pdf document which was probably put on the internet when it was invented. Why aren’t there postcards, leaflets with a map inside and some info about each sculpture and other things nearby? SBC what are you playing at?  Think of Swindon and tourism and what comes to mind? STEAM, the Outlet Village and Lydiard Park. Oh and maybe the Oasis. And that’s probably about it. But there’s all this and so few people know about it. Shame on you!

Someone put a comment on the post about ‘White Horse Pacified’ saying she’d been wanting to see that sculpture but had no idea where to look for it, but now – thanks to my blog post – she does. I rest my case.

Tuesday 13th August – Update: 

I’ve just today, found out about these interesting articles – see below – relating to the West Swindon sculpture walk with some really great pictures and other bits I didn’t know about, which is all really cool.

When I started doing a web search to look for info for this blog regarding Swindon’s public art I couldn’t find these – just the old PDF file that I’ve been referring to.  Never mind – I know about them now which is all that matters. It’s just great to know that there is stuff out there about it all.

Find a map of the walk here: The Sculpture Tour West Swindon

Here’s a link to a picture on the Swindon Local collection Flickr site. It’s of the poster designed by Ken White for the statue’s unveiling event.

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