Golden Fruit, Equine Engineering and a Fifties Flyer

Three more runners and riders in the carousel horse trail.

Heather Horsley’s Golden Fruit is enhanced and almost seems to be ripened by the evening sun outside Burton Town Hall. Heather gives no clues as to the inspiration behind the use of fruit but it is very much in the style she uses in much of her published work and greetings cards.

Not too far away from the town hall is Equine Engineering by Anna Roebuck, and very appropriately outside the Roebuck pub. I wonder if Anna got a free pint for all the hard work and detail put into this creation.

In her own words… ‘Equine Engineering’ draws inspiration from the often uncelebrated industries that grew up alongside brewing. It explores the innerworkings of a mechanical horse via the history of Orton and Spooners fairground constructions, historic metal working firms that created the iconic Ferry and Andresey bridges, as well as equipment to the brewing trade and then on to the present industry and robotics’

A final one to bring this mini series to a close is The Fifties Flyer by David Tunks. David certainly picks up on the Orton and Spooner style and connection with his fairground inspired design. Another horse with the brewing hops and barley symbols. I just find it a little bizarre that one is located at the main gate to the cemetery.

A shire and a secluded waterfall

These horses look very much at home in their allocated settings. Firstly, Shire Horse at the National Brewery Centre. Shire horses were traditionally used to pull brewers drays for the delivery of beer back in the days of wooden barrels. This one, designed by Joanna Dawidowska includes a reference to two key ingredients in beer, hops and barley.

The second one, Secluded Waterfall by Richard Rudge, appears to be enjoying the setting sun and shaded location close to the river in Stapenhill Woodlands.

Lowry’s Burton

As outlined in my recent post ‘Mend the cracks with gold’, give 30 artists a blank canvas in the shape of a carousel horse and they will paint 30 totally different designs. Many have taken inspiration from Burton connections and Rebecca Morledge has done this most successfully with her ‘Lowrey’s Burton.

Artist L S Lowrey frequently travelled to Burton in the 1960s to visit his friend and loyal patron Dr Hugh Maitland, a retired Manchester University professor and amateur painter. From Dr Maitland’s home in Rowbury Drive Lowry often took the short walk across Ashby Road to The Waterloo where he enjoyed a pint of Bass, claiming that it didn’t taste the same anywhere else.

Lowry produced several sketches and paintings in Burton. The most well known one is The Crossing, depicting a brewery train and level crossing gates in High Street. As he would travel to Burton by train it seems doubly appropriate that this carousel horse is outside the railway station.

Rebecca’s horse, based on The Crossing, certainly captures the Lowry style in this 1961 busy street scene. However, is it just me or can anyone else see three figures in the bottom left hand corner staring at their mobile phones as they walk 2022 style in this final photo!

Mend the cracks with gold

Burton has been invaded by a herd of carousel horses! The Big Burton Carousel sculpture trail recognises and highlights the fact that Burton was home to Orton and Spooner, designers and producers of colourful showmen’s caravans and fairground rides, including carousel horses. The company manufactured such items in Burton from 1890s to the 1950s.

There are 30 carousel horse sculptures around the town, each one sponsored by a local business and painted by up and coming artists from around the country. When the trail closes, the sculptures will be auctioned off and the proceeds will go to Burton Mind, the mental health charity.

We haven’t visited them all yet but one of my favourites so far is Mend the Cracks with Gold and if art is intended to educate and make you think, this piece of artwork has certainly succeeded. It introduces us to the idea of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of putting broken pottery back together with gold. Although this is a centuries old Japanese tradition it has come to be a metaphor for embracing our flaws and imperfections. When you think you are broken, you can pick up the pieces, put them back together, and learn to embrace the cracks, making you stronger and better than ever before.

The Mend the Cracks with Gold horse was painted by artist Lois Cordelia, who explains so well the thinking behind the sculpture.

“We all feel a little broken right now in this post-covid world. But if we set about mending our broken hopes and dreams with the radiant gold lacquer of friendship, love and optimism, we will find that the result is more beautiful than it was before it broke.”

If, like us, you enjoy watching The Repair Shop on BBC you will probably admire the skills of Kirsten Ramsey, ‘the queen of the invisible fix’ and her ability to repair ceramics in such a way that you just can’t see where the damage was. Kintsugi seems to me to be the exact opposite of the invisible mend. So next time you break a piece of china, or anything else for that matter, will you go for the invisible mend or will you choose to mend the cracks with gold?