Bronzes for the World: The Morris Singer Foundry
Friends of the Willis Museum
Willis Museum, Market Place
Until August 23
THIS fantastically enlightening little exhibition upstairs in the museum focuses on the work of the Morris Singer Foundry, which relocated from London to Basingstoke in 1967.
The foundry has its origins in the 1840s and is the oldest fine art foundry in the world; Piccadilly Circus’ Eros and Trafalgar Square’s Lions and fountains are among the work that has been cast there.
It enjoyed long relationships with many artists, notably Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and remained at the local site in Bond Close, Daneshill until 1999 before relaunching at its current location at Lasham in 2001.
This exhibition is based around a number of informative wall displays, which move through the history of the company right up until the present day.
It’s fascinating to read, especially when it reveals those prominent works of art which were actually cast in Basingstoke, three of which remain in the town today: Dame Elisabeth Frink’s Head of Christ is in All Saints’ Church; Tom Merrifield’s ballerina ‘Poppy’ is located as you approach the lifts beside The Anvil; Peter Parkinson’s Triumphal Gateway was unveiled at the end of London Street in 1992.
Poppy - picture by Howard Ray
Most of the work carried out in Basingstoke was transported elsewhere. Those who know London at all may not have realised that the bust of Nelson Mandela, which is located outside the South Bank Centre, was cast in Basingstoke (pictured below. Pic by John Hollands).
It also cast the Sir Matt Busby statue for Old Trafford and the wonderful Battle of Britain memorial at Victoria Embankment (pictured below. Pic by Tom Anthony).
The foundry’s employees – many of whom have visited this exhibition, and been delighted by it – also worked on, amongst other projects, a 1982 bronze altarpiece for Sacre Coeur Chapel of Notre Dame Cathedral, Montreal, Canada and the Texan Las Colinas Mustang Project, which features the largest equestrian sculptures in the world.
They were also tasked with repairing Edinburgh’s 1685 equestrian statue of Charles II as Caesar, one of the oldest in the UK.
This is certainly a link to the town which thoroughly deserves to have been brought to the attention of a wider audience.
Well done to the Friends.
Admission is free.
Opening times: 10am-4pm Tues - Sat.
Thank you to John Hollands and Derek Anthony for their help in compiling this article.