Historic England has launched an appeal to trace some of the most important bronze sculpture of the 20th century, which has gone missing, over the last decade. It is thought that several major artworks created by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Lynn Chadwick have already been destroyed. Created and sited in the open for all of us to enjoy; these pieces were made for our public spaces, our schools, hospitals, housing estates, civic areas and communities. They were commissioned and designed with a social spirit to add colour to our local places and our daily lives. Such sculptures, murals and architectural reliefs are disappearing for many reasons, and for some pieces, it is already too late. Stolen and melted down for their scrap value; neglected and vandalised beyond repair; sold and moved from their intended public spaces; destroyed by redevelopment, or just forgotten – location unknown. The nation’s great outdoor collection of public art is in jeopardy.
Chief executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, said: “Part of England’s national collection of public artworks is disappearing before our eyes. Historic England’s research is only the tip of the iceberg as it’s almost impossible to trace what has happened to every piece of public art since 1945. “We’re making efforts to protect the best examples of post-war public art that still exist, and make sure that it continues to enhance the public realm. “But we also want to raise awareness of just how vulnerable these works can be and we want the public to help us track down lost pieces.”
Although much has already been lost there is still time to save many of England’s unique treasures. Historic England are putting together a list to catalogue what’s left but we can’t do it alone. They need your photographs, memories and stories about any works of outdoor art from the post war period, 1945-1985, which are thought to be missing. This will help to complete the picture of what’s still out there, and raise awareness of what is at risk of losing forever.
They are featuring galleries of pieces that they think have been lost, stolen, sold or destroyed on their website. With your help, they are hoping to track down the forgotten riches of our national outdoor art collection, before they disappear for good.