New sculpture set to be unveiled at Harlow Town Park

Entertainment / Thu 16th Nov 2023 at 10:54am

HARLOW Art Trust, the guardians of Harlow Sculpture Town, are delighted to announce that Minerva by the artist Irena Posner, will be unveiled in Harlow Town Park, Harlow, on Saturday 18 November at 12 pm. Harlow has a proud tradition of placing contemporary sculpture in public spaces for the whole community to enjoy. The commission was part of the Harlow Art Trust’s 70th Anniversary Celebrations and it is the 108th in the town’s remarkable collection of public artworks which includes pieces by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin. 

Irena Posner is the Harlow Art Trust’s 7th Sculpture Town Artist In Residence (STAIR07).  She started carving in May at the Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust before the stone was moved to Harlow Town Park in June. Over the course of the next month Park visitors enjoyed the opportunity to watch Irena work. The process of making the sculpture on-site was inspired by Harlow Sculpture Town’s first public commission by Mary Spencer-Watson who carved ‘Chiron’ outside Moot House in The Stowe, Harlow in 1953. 

The sculpture connects the narratives of Chiron and the enduring legacies of Harlow’s Celtic and Roman past. The 8ft owl form with human feet perched on a log draws on the discovery of a fragment of a Roman statue depicting Minerva whose sacred companion was an owl. It is through this connection to the goddess, that the sculpture speaks to feminine subjectivities and embraces the goddess’s virtues of wisdom and artistry.

Between her work on her sculpture Irena brought traditional sculpture-making to Harlow through a community focussed stone carving project. From April to September, she ran a series of workshops for schools and the local community offering an introduction to sculpture and relief carving in Portland stone. Her exhibition We return to our strange life of stone’ at the Gibberd Gallery, features carvings made by schools and members of the Harlow community. It also illustrates the story of the creation of ‘Minerva’.

Irena graduated from Royal College of Art in 2022 with a Masters in Sculpture. She was the recipient of the Gilbert Bayes Sculpture Award in 2021 and shortlisted for the Kenneth Armitage Award in 2022. Irena has undertaken residencies in Carrara, Italy; Weymouth, England, and a carving residency at the University of East London. Her works are held in permanent collections including The Odunpazari Modern Museum, Turkey and Fondazione Benetton, Italy.

Irena said ‘It has been a real privilege to make a sculpture for Harlow as part of my residency and also to mark the 70th anniversary of the Harlow Art Trust.

I was moved by Mary Spencer Watson’s process of carving Chiron on-site and wanted to use the residency to bring to life sculpture-making as a performative and living process. It was a pleasure to work with the local community and open people up to the possibilities of making sculpture.’

STAIR is a partnership between Harlow Art Trust with the Royal College of Art and Pearson Education. Irena’s residency was also supported using public funding by National Lottery Funds through Arts Council England Some of the school and family workshops are part of the ‘Our Community, Our Environment’ programme supported by the Essex Arts and Cultural Fund. Special thanks go to Harlow Town Park Staff and volunteers and Harlow Art Trust volunteers.

The 8ft stone sculpture is being installed in Newfoundland Gardens, Harlow Town Park by art installation experts Mtec on Friday 17 November.

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3 Comments for New sculpture set to be unveiled at Harlow Town Park:

Rob Taylor
2023-11-18 07:55:12

I’m sure it will be great to see but why only at the end of it being carved do we find we could have gone along and seen the work in progress for the last few months? Missed opportunity there for many of us who would have been very interested in the process, maybe in future we can get some notice as it’s happening not just at the finale? Something for the publicity manager to think about…

2023-11-20 14:26:17

It has been available to see in progress for some six months to those of us who frequent the park.

Tony De Franca
2023-12-03 16:11:57

What happened to the sculpture? It's no longer at the park...

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