Artist bids to build £250,000 sculpture

HARTLEPOOL could get a new larger-than-life monument that incorporates well-known symbols associated with the town, its history and legend.

The Hartlepool Tale is a bronze sculpture of a stag with a monkey on its back that is holding a cod.

A two-and-a-half-foot-high model of the sculpture is currently on display at Hartlepool Art Gallery, in Church Square.

But, depending on public reaction, a version around 20 per cent bigger than a life-size stag could be built and installed at a yet-to-be-announced location in the town.

Creator Julia Wager, 49, who is originally from Salisbury but has lived in Hartlepool for 21 years, said: "It is a unique sculpture for Hartlepool, bringing together the images that Hartlepool is well-known for.

"Hartlepool hasn't got many sculptures and I don't think some of the sculptures that it does have are relevant to the town.

"Imagine that high on a plinth in Hartlepool? I would love the idea to come off."

The larger-scale statue would cost between 250,000 and 300,000 to create and Julia hopes to get private and public funding to bring the idea to life.

She agreed public funds are tight at the moment but pointed out other pieces of public art, such as Antony Gormley's Angel of the North and Anish Kapoor's Temenos, in Middlesbrough, had cost millions of pounds.

She added the piece would attract interest to the town.

Julia, who is married to Hartlepool-born artist Paul Wager, 61, and has three sons, John Paul, 24, Francis, 20, and Joseph, 17, added: "The people will decide where best to put it."

The smaller piece took two years to make and it is thought the larger version would take about six months.

Julia, who has been a sculptor for 30 years and is well-known for her pieces depicting horses and dogs, said: "Hartlepool definitely needs this symbol in the town and I would love to hear what people think and there is a guestbook in the gallery for people to leave comments."

If feedback is positive and funding is found, Julia would hope to start work on the piece within the next two years.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright is supporting the idea.

He said: "I think the sculpture is great and it is an interesting take on what is our civic symbol.

"We have to appreciate in the current climate, there will be no public money available for this sort of thing, but I hope private and corporate sponsors may be able to assist."

The Hartlepool Tale can be viewed at the gallery from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10am–5pm.